The Translation of the Architectural Modernization Discourse in Guadeloupe (1928–81)
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One of the fundamental aspects of the colonial conquest is the physical domination of a chosen territory, not only in terms of population but also in terms of the symbolic representation of power and its intentions. Architecture, in that context, carries several meanings. Indeed, more than merely an answer to the basic need of sheltering or to aesthetics, architecture is the expression of those who design it and build it. As an instrument of the conscious transfer of ideas, architecture can also be understood as a cultural discourse from a specific group in a specific society. Guadeloupe is a French overseas department and European region, located in the West Indies. The legacy of its specific history as a tropical colony with an economy based on slavery and large-scale crops (sugar cane, coffee, etc.) can be seen in the way urban forms have been created and developed. The significant urban growth that took place in the twentieth century under the incentive of central authorities to address modernization considerably modified the 'traditional' landscape and generated new forms and typologies. The end of the colonial system in Guadeloupe during that century can be expected to have influenced the translation of central government directives and guidelines. Yet, a closer scrutiny of the latter and their produced architecture and urban forms show that there is a time lag during the translation process. This paper analyzes the architectural translation of modernization between central authorities (from colonial to post-colonial) and the operational level in Guadeloupe during the twentieth century. It also addresses the question of how translation can be received in a context of domination.
Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 31, Translation
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Architectural History and Theory