Carter Manny Award

  • Expert, Artifact, Fact: The Techno-Politics of Architectural Production in French Black Africa, 1945-1975
    Yetunde Olaiya

Jean-Henri Calsat presenting a project to French colonial administrators, 1949, Brazzaville, French Congo. Courtesy of Archives of the University of Geneva, Archives of architecture, Fonds Henri-Jean Calsat.

Yetunde Olaiya, Princeton University, School of Architecture, is the recipient of the 2012 Carter Manny Research Award.

Between 1945 and 1975, French Black Africa was the site for intense architectural production involving an elaborate network of actors beyond architects. Various research agencies, advisory committees, and consultants provided technical support to architects working in the tropics and, in so doing, lent a technocratic sheen to the rushed development efforts of the period. This dissertation examines its "techno-politics," that is, the entanglement between technical expertise and the postwar politics of late imperialism, decolonization, and the Cold War. It traces the evolution of such technical expertise over each of the three decades covered through the respective entry-points of "expert," the French architect Jean-Henri Calsat (pictured above); "artifact," the aluminum roof-umbrella; and "fact," urban research in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa. By presenting postwar architectural production in French Black Africa as a techno-political project, the dissertation hopes to highlight the heterogeneity and contingency of development too often omitted in postcolonial accounts.

Yetunde Olaiya is a PhD candidate at the Princeton University School of Architecture. She specializes in the history of modern architecture and urban design in sub-Saharan Africa. Yetunde graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College and holds an MArch from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She has practiced architecture at firms in London, Chicago, and New York.