Theses Doctoral

Modernism’s Politics of Land: Settlement Colonialism and Migrant Mobility In the German Empire, from Prussian Poland to German Namibia, 1884-1918

Kennedy, Hollyamber

This dissertation charts a spatial, architectural, and landscape history of German settlement colonialism (Siedlungskolonialismus) in the Prussian Polish Provinces and German South West Africa, between 1884 and 1918. It situates this study from the framework of Germany’s late nineteenth century project of internal colonization (innere Kolonisation), which forms an almost exact temporal parallel with Germany’s external colonial interventions and can be seen as an indispensable part of its broader apparatus, which points to new connections within its entangled fields of operation. Following several generations of German architects, planners, social scientists, and settlement practitioners (Ansiedlungspraktiker) working at the borders of empire, this dissertation asks how the colonial question of land shaped modern planning discourse at the turn of the century. Broadly speaking, I look at how state control over the freedom of movement, colonial land reclamation, and the resistance these interventions encountered contoured modernism’s politics of land. This study illustrates how the languages of German architectural and planning modernism were marked by asymmetric and discordant processes of colonial spatialization—a multivalent transfiguration of the landscape in which the local, indigenous, and pre-colonial populations played a central, if often unacknowledged, role. This project seeks in turn to read that resistance, as interlocutor, back into the history of German colonial intervention in the two regions under discussion in this study. Finally, I argue that placing these episodes together within the same discursive framework, tracing the spatiality and aesthetics of German imperial expansion from the analytic of settlement, opens up a new set of questions regarding the role of enclosure and its epistemologies in architectural modernism. This brings the often-sidelined issue of agrarian modernity and the disciplining of the landscape (in the Foucauldian sense), to bear on modern architectural histories.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Scott, Felicity Dale
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 16, 2019