Back in Print, Second Edition of ‘African Modernism’ Surveys Architecture Across the ContinentReview: ‘African Modernism. The Architecture of Independence: Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Zambia,’ edited by Manuel Herz with Ingrid Schröder, Hans Focketyn, and Julia Jamrozik
The book examines more than 100 architectural works and presents them in sumptuous detail. The editors walk the reader through the basic information on each building and its design, and match the text with site plans and the breathtaking photography of Iwan Baan and Alexia Webster. Each main chapter is devoted to one country and prefaced with a helpful set of social, political, and economic timelines to give a sense of the broader post-independence context. These chapters are book ended by a diverse array of well-written essays that zero in on particular themes ranging from debates on emergent civic identity to settlement patterns across time. The essays are thoughtful and thought-provoking; they boldly confront the thornier issues surrounding the idea of “independence architecture.” Particularly interesting is Zvi Efrat’s “Proxy Colonialism,” which details how the newly independent state of Israel employed an intentional strategy of exporting its particular blend of Western architecture to African states as a way of exerting influence.