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Domesticity and colonialism

The space of colonialism


Monday 5 November 2018
6.30 — 8pm

Book now

A “typical” family in a Puerto Rican house

Supplement 31, October 1971, Proyecto Digitalización “El Mundo”

Our panel of architects and researchers will examine how colonialism has shaped contemporary domestic space from Iran to Puerto Rico.

In a broad sense, architecture has always been inseparable from politics. It shapes identities and forms behaviours, and is often used in the interests of those in power. However, architecture also has the potential to subvert these intentions and to reappropriate space. In this series of talks, we look at the political potential of architecture through the lens of colonialism.

Despite architecture and colonialism being widely explored in architectural history, the domestic dimension of this connection is often considered marginal or unimportant. Instead, the focus has been on how colonial powers affect cities and urban space. Yet the way these powers operate within the intimate environment of the home can have an immediate impact on perceptions surrounding gender, family relationships and sexuality, both within the societies of the coloniser and the colonised.

Our panel will look at the similarities and differences in domestic space from Iran to Eelam/Sri Lanka and Puerto Rico, exploring how they have been shaped by both post-colonial and colonial conditions.


Melissa Fernández Arrigoitia is a Lecturer in Urban Futures at Lancaster University. Her work focuses on the socio-material home as a critical realm of inquiry where historical desires, everyday life and future aspirations intersect.

Samaneh Moafi is an architect and researcher based between the UK and Iran. She holds a PhD from the Architectural Association and is a Research Fellow at Forensic Architecture. Her work examines natural environments and realms of domesticity as apparatuses of governance.

Sinthujan Varatharajah is a PhD student in Political Geography at UCL. He was the Project Coordinator and Community Manager for Flüchtlinge Willkommen (Refugees Welcome) in Berlin. He has immersed himself in the Tamil political scene, working with campaigning organisations seeking a solution to the war in Sri Lanka.

Léopold Lambert (chair) is an architect, writer and editor. He is founding editor of The Funambulist, and author of Weaponized Architecture: The Impossibility of Innocence (2012) and Topie Impitoyable: The Politics of the Cloth, the Wall, and the Street (2015).

The Space of Colonialism series is guest curated by Léopold Lambert and The Funambulist, a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the politics of space and bodies.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Monday 5 November 2018

6.30 — 8pm

The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£15, £9 concessions

Book now