Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture, Brown University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Architecture, University of Michigan
"Onwards with God": Utopianism, Colonialism, and Modernism in a Pan-German World

My dissertation investigates interactions between space and ideology in the didactic practices of German-speaking Protestant sects in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. I will explore the interplay between utopian rhetoric, colonial sentiment, and modem spatial practices, as they flowed between the German-speaking world and West Africa. Drawing on the history of utopian visions from the Renaissance onwards, my research will focus on the role of utopian colonialism as it emerged from religious new towns in Germany and was transformed in the context of proto-colonial settlement in the Gold Coast. Additionally, I will analyze the impact of utopian spatial ideologies on the formation of formal colonial policies, paying particular attention to the introduction of modem architectural and planning ideas in alleged contradistinction to African traditions. I hypothesize that the contemporary built form of the Gold Coast region displays the impact of utopian colonialism in ongoing disjunctions between urban and rural spaces. My research also points to utopian colonialism as a missing link in the history of German architectural modernism. Utopian spatial practices influenced important German architectural developments including the proliferation of social housing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the German Garden City Movement of the early twentieth century.