A Hold on the City: Housing and Landscape History in Lagos, 1885-1985
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CitationDuerksen, Mark. 2018. A Hold on the City: Housing and Landscape History in Lagos, 1885-1985. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is an architectural and socio-political history of houses in Lagos, Nigeria between 1885 and 1985. Through historical maps, photographs, and written archival sources, it traces the changing forms, meanings, and uses of houses across a century in which Lagos grew from a small entrepôt colony into one of Africa’s largest metropolises. The study approaches this history from a landscape perspective, developing a methodology that utilizes visual sources for insights into a historical dynamic between houses, land (ecologies, systems of land ownership, and urban morphologies), and visual scapes (aesthetic discourses and technologies of representation). It argues that across this history, houses have been at the center of Lagos political and social life as holds of power and support, and that the design and function of houses have been shaped by—and shaped—the urban landscape. Each chapter in the study is written around a water feature (sandbar, canal, swamp, lagoon, Atlantic, flood) that influenced how housing was structured in a specific era of the city’s history. The study begins by examining the richly decorated “Lagos style” houses of the late nineteenth-century, an era when, briefly, the city was a cosmopolitan place of opportunity between Africa and the Atlantic World. Examining architectures of segregation, slum clearance, and tropical modernism, the next three chapters show how, beginning in the early twentieth-century, housing under British rule became a locus interlocking colonial struggles over land, labor, sanitation, and knowledge. The final two chapters explore what houses have become in postcolonial Lagos—how houses bound the city together during military rule but more recently have become shelters for capital rather than people at a time when the city, like many urban centers worldwide, is facing the dual challenges of housing shortages and climate change.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41121261
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