1st Edition

Rethinking Global Modernism Architectural Historiography and the Postcolonial

    394 Pages 113 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    394 Pages 113 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This anthology collects developing scholarship that outlines a new decentred history of global modernism in architecture using postcolonial and other related theoretical frameworks.

    By both revisiting the canons of modernism and seeking to decolonize and globalize those canons, the volume explores what a genuinely "global" history of architectural modernism might begin to look like. Its chapters explore the historiography and weaknesses of modernism's normative interpretations and propose alternatives to them. The collection offers essays that interrogate transnationalism in new ways, reconsiders the agency of the subaltern and the roles played by infrastructures, materials, and global institutions in propagating a diversity of modernisms internationally. Issues such as colonial modernism, architectural pedagogy, cultural imperialism, and spirituality are engaged.

    With essays from both established scholars and up-and-coming researchers, this is an important reference for a new understanding of this crucial and developing topic.


    1. Global Modernism and the Postcolonial

    Vikramaditya Prakash, Maristella Casciato, and Daniel E. Coslett

    PART I: Critiques of Normative Modernist Narratives

    2. "Weak" Modernism: Managing the Threat of Brazil’s Modern Architecture at MoMA

    Patricio del Real

    3. Enchanted Transfers: MoMA’s Japanese Exhibition House and the Secular Occlusion of Modernism

    María González Pendás

    4. Competing Modernities: Socialist Architecture’s Challenge to the Global

    Juliana Maxim

    5. Architecture in the 1990s, the Mies van der Rohe Prize, and the Creation of the Civilization Industrial Complex

    Mark Jarzombek

    PART II: New Theoretical Frameworks for Thinking Global Modernism

    6. An Architecture Culture of "Contact Zones": Prospects for an Alternative Historiography of Modernism

    Tom Avermaete and Cathelijne Nuijsink

    7. Intra-action: Barad’s "Agential Realism" and Modernism

    Hannah Feniak

    8. Layered Networks: Beyond the Local and the Global in Postcolonial Modernism

    Alona Nitzan-Shiftan

    PART III: Modernism and (Trans)Nationalism

    9. Uneven Modernities: Rabindranth Tagore and the Bauhaus

    Martin Beattie

    10. Unbuilt Iran: Modernism’s Counterproposal in Alvar Aalto’s Museum of Modern Art in Shiraz

    Shima Mohajeri and Parsa Khalili

    11. Representing Landscape, Mediating Wetness: Louis Kahn at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar (East Pakistan/Bangladesh)

    Labib Hossain

    PART IV: Rethinking Agency in Modernism

    12. Domestic Funk: Favelados of the Global North

    Greg Castillo

    13. CINVA to Siyabuswa: The Unruly Path of Global Self-help Housing

    Hannah le Roux

    14. Subaltern-Diasporic Histories of Modernism: Working on Australia’s "Snowy Scheme"

    Anoma Pieris

    PART V: Infrastructures and Materials Cultures of Global Modernism

    15. The Politics of Concrete: Material Culture, Global Modernism, and the Project of Decolonization in India

    Martino Stierli

    16. Jane Drew in Lagos: Carbonization and Colonization at BP House, 1960

    Daniel A. Barber

    17. Provincializing ENI’s Disegno Africano: Agip Tanzania and the Agip Motel in Dar es Salaam

    Giulia Scotto

    18. The Politics of Circulation: Cinema Architecture in Colonial Morocco

    Craig Buckley


    19. Massive Urbanization and the Circulation of Eventualities

    AbdouMaliq Simone



    Vikramaditya Prakash is an architect and an architectural historian and theorist. He is a professor of architecture and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington, Seattle. Prakash is the host of the ArchitectureTalk podcast and codesign lead at the Office of Uncertainty Research. His recent books include Colonial Modernities: Building, Dwelling and Architecture in British India and Ceylon (edited with Peter Scriver) (Routledge, 2007), The Architecture of Shivdatt Sharma (Mapin, 2012), Chandigarh: An Architectural Guide (Altrim Publishers, 2015), and One Continuous Line: Art, Architecture and Urbanism of Aditya Prakash (Mapin, 2021). 

    Maristella Casciato is an architect and architectural historian and is Senior Curator of Architectural Collections at the Getty Research Institute (since 2016). She was Mellon Senior Fellow at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal (2010) prior to being appointed Associate Director of Research at the same institute (2012–15). She has taught the history of architecture in Italy and in the United States. Since the late 1990s, she has been engaged in a research project on Pierre Jeanneret and the planning of Chandigarh in postcolonial India. On this topic, she has curated a few exhibitions and contributed to the publication of catalogues and essays.

    Daniel E. Coslett is a scholar of colonial and postcolonial architecture and urbanism whose work addresses the intersections of architecture and urban planning, preservation, archaeology, and tourism in North Africa. He received a PhD in the history and theory of built environments from the University of Washington and an MA in the subject from Cornell University. Coslett has taught art and architectural history at Western Washington University and the University of Washington. His edited volume entitled Neocolonialism and Built Heritage: Echoes of Empire in Africa, Asia, and Europe (Routledge) was published in 2020. He is an associate editor at the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

    "Taking seriously the challenge to think critically and deeply about what ‘global modernism’ and a reconsideration of postcoloniality might entail, this landmark volume brings together the foremost experts in the field to open up new directions for the study of ‘modern’ architecture and the built environment. Each essay conjures exciting potential avenues through the migrant, out-of-sync, and fragmented histories and futures of modern architecture, steadfastly refusing the call for a satisfying whole to instead embrace the much more interesting (and indeed accurate) dispersals of the global modern."

    Rebecca M. Brown, Professor and Chair of the History of Art, Johns Hopkins University, USA

    "Long after ‘metanarratives’ have been considered as obsolete by Jean-François Lyotard, collective endeavors such as Vikramaditya Prakash’s, Maristella Casciato’s, and Daniel Coslett’s assemblage of essays take stock of the stunning metamorphosis of the historical interpretation of twentieth-century architecture. The essays contained in their dense, diverse tome not only widen our field of vision, including overlooked projects and buildings, but they also question without mercy the critical production which has been since the 1920s the doppelgänger of modernist practice. Without any doubt, Rethinking Global Modernism will inspire a new generation of investigations which will further reshape the worldwide history of architecture and urban form."

    Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts/New York University, USA

    "With its thematic approach, Rethinking Global Modernism: Architectural Historiography and the Postcolonial is a well-organized, astute and thought-provoking analysis of the history of modern architecture. We needed this compendium with some of the best scholars of the field of global history."

    Caroline Maniaque, Professor of Architectural History and Cultures, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Normandie, France

    "A serendipitously timed and kaleidoscopic examination of modernism globally—its discontents, adaptations, evolutions, contestations, transformative effects and often impending erasure. The collective resonance of these essays challenge us to expand and nuance more critically the histories of modernism in the planetary context."

    Rahul Mehrotra, RMA Architects and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design and John T. Dunlop Professor in Housing and Urbanization, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, USA

    "If the pandemic has been a moment of recalibrating methods and priorities towards a better understanding of architecture and its role in the interactive processes of modernization that shape the global environment, this book promises to be an extraordinarily productive response to that challenge. Edited by some of the most experienced scholars of the history of modern architecture in Asia and Latin America, it offers a wide array of topical issues in architectural theory and criticism regarding what used to be called the ‘Third World,’ thereby systematically updating the methods and the vocabulary in ways that will be indispensable for scholars working in the field."

    Stanislaus von Moos, Professor Emeritus of Modern and Contemporary Art, University of Zurich, Switzerland

    "Instead of reading global modernism as subordination or resistance to modernist forms projected outward from western metropoles, this ambitious collection reconstructs as well as deconstructs modern architecture’s foundations, its historiographical processes. Here modernism’s past and future are decolonized and globalized, multidirectional and multinucleated in their narratives, theories, agencies, and materialities."

    Mary N. Woods, Professor Emerita of the History of Architecture and Urbanism, Cornell University, USA