Modern Architecture and its Representation in Colonial Eritrea offers a critical assessment of architecture and urbanism constructed in Eritrea during the Italian colonial period spanning from 1890-1941. Drawing together imperial projects, modernist aesthetics, and fascist motives, the book examines how the merger of these three significant influences yielded a complex built environment that served to emulate, if not redefine, Italian colonial pursuits. As Italy’s colonia primogenitÃ or 'first born colony', Eritrea and its capital, Asmara, not only bore witness to the emergence of politicized interiors and international expositions, the colony became a vehicle that polarized issues of race and gender. Exploring discourses of modernity in Africa, this book moves between histories of architecture, urbanism, literature and media to describe how Eritrea and Asmara became a crucial fulcrum for Italy's ill-fated pursuits in Ethiopia and other neighboring countries. Consequently, modern architecture inscribed Eritrean subjectivities while redefining technologies that affected constructions of the colonial interior. Modern Architecture and its Representation in Colonial Eritrea demonstrates how architecture in Asmara reshaped the creation and reception of Italian East Africa.
’Anyone who works on the history and legacy of Italian colonialism has to consider the nature and the development of the built environment. Sean Anderson’s study represents an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of architecture in colonial Eritrea, the conceptual structures on which it was based, and the manifold types of representation to which it was subject. In its exploration of how the colony was seen from the late nineteenth century, how architectural practice developed, how the interior space of the home was interpreted, and how the colonial exhibition functioned, the study is detailed and meticulously researched. Throughout the work Anderson draws on advanced theoretical thinking on spatiality, semiotics, and subjectivity. Accompanied by a fascinating photographic record of the types of building project that defined the Italian presence in Eritrea in its various and distinct phases, the study will appeal to a wide range of specialized and non-specialized audiences.’ Charles Burdett, University of Bristol, UK