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In the 1960s, the French colonial regime used the Sahara Desert to test and detonate its first nuclear bombs, spreading radioactive fallout across Africa and the Mediterranean and caus¬ing irreversible contaminations among humans, natural and built environments. This talk examines the architectures and sites of toxicity.
The presentation will be followed by a live debate and conversation moderated by Tamar Zinguer.
Samia Henni is an architectural historian and Assistant Professor of History of Architecture and Urbanism at the Department of Architecture, College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Cornell University. She is the author of the multi-award-winning Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (gta Verlag, 2017, EN; Editions B42, 2019, FR), the editor of the gta papers no. 2 titled War Zones (gta Verlag, 2018), and the maker of exhibitions, such as Housing Pharmacology / Right to Housing (Manifesta 13, Marseille, 2020) and Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria (Zurich, Rotterdam, Berlin, Johannesburg, Paris, Prague, Ithaca, Philadelphia, 2017-’19). She received her Ph.D. in the history and theory of architecture (with distinction, ETH Medal) from ETH Zurich and taught at Princeton University, ETH Zurich, and Geneva University of Art and Design. Her teaching and research interests include the history and theory of the built, destroyed, and imagined environment in relation to colonialism, displacement, gender, natural resources, and wars. Her current book project examines how the French military authorities toxified and transformed the Saharan territories and environments in the aftermath Second World War. Henni has lectured and published widely.
Nora Akawi is Assistant Professor of Architecture at The Cooper Union. Her research and teaching lie at the intersections of displacement, erasure, and memory with architecture—drawing from migration and border studies, mapping practices, and archive theory. Prior to joining The Cooper Union, Nora taught at Columbia University’s GSAPP, where she was director of Studio-X Amman. Most recently, Nora curated Al Majhoola Min Al-Ard (This Land’s Unknown) at the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans 2019, and co-curated Friday Sermon, the Bahrain Pavilion exhibition in the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice. She co-edited the books Friday: An Assembly (2018) and Architecture and Representation: The Arab City (2016). Recent publications include “Mapping Borderlands: Drawing From the Jawlan” in GTA Papers 2: War Zones (ETH Zürich, 2019), and “Worlding From the South” in Manifesta 12: Palermo Atlas, (OMA / Humboldt Books, 2018).
This event is free and open to the public.