• Modern Ethiopia: Architecture, Urbanism, and the Building of a Nation
    David Rifkind

Post office, 1930s, Gondar, Ethiopia. Photo: David Rifkind.

Modern Ethiopia: Architecture, Urbanism and the Building of a Nation is the first booklength study of the built environment in East Africa that incorporates field research in Ethiopia with archival research in Europe, the United States, and Ethiopia. The project examines architecture and urbanism as evidence of the political and cultural transformations of Ethiopia during the first century of the country's modernization. The work approaches Ethiopia's modern history without presuming a decisive rupture between building techniques before and after the Italian invasion in 1935–36, and thus explores the possibility of hybrid construction methods and spatial configurations that synthesize native and foreign practices. Modern Ethiopia: Architecture, Urbanism and the Building of a Nation fills several gaps in our understanding of African architecture and urbanism, Italian colonialism, and the development of the many languages of modern architecture.

David Rifkind teaches architectural history and theory as an assistant professor at Florida International University. His research examines architectural responses to processes of modernization, with special emphasis on the relationships between modern architecture and political forces during Italy's twenty-year period of fascist rule. His first book, The Battle for Modernism: Quadrante and the Politicization of Architectural Discourse in Fascist Italy, won the 2011 Premio James Ackerman from the CISA Andrea Palladio. His subsequent research on Italian colonial urban planning and architecture in East Africa is the first such work to integrate extensive field study in Ethiopia with archival research in Europe and the United States. His article in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, "Gondar. Architecture and Urbanism for Italy's Fascist Empire," won the society's 2011 Founders' Award. This continuing project comprises the first component in a long-term study of modern architecture and urban planning throughout Africa.