Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Restoring Empire: British Imperial Nostalgia, Colonial Space, and Violence since WWII
Authors: Hori, Julia Michiko
Advisors: Gikandi, Simon E
Cadava, Eduardo
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: architecture
British Empire
Subjects: Caribbean studies
English literature
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: To this day, the plantation house remains—long-after emancipation, decolonization, and independence—one of the most celebrated, protected, and profitable structures in the Anglophone Caribbean. My dissertation asks why. Restoring Empire examines the relationship between architecture and violence in the legacies of British imperial rule and Caribbean plantation slavery to understand how racialized narratives of imperial power are constructed, spatialized, and materially inhabited for both private and public purposes. I investigate the battlegrounds of cultural memory in material sites and architectural rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic, tracing the enduring powers of colonial planning, plantation aesthetics, and imperial nostalgia after WWII. In four chapters, I analyze architecture not just as the authored design of buildings but as the material organization of ideas and bodies in space and in particular, as archives of imperial narrative under perceived threat. By reading the narratives encrypted within built space, my project seeks to expand the approaches to postcolonial theory and the materials of literary study. The dissertation contributes to ongoing academic debates and public conversations about postcolonial reconciliation and heritage culture in three ways. First, it analyzes the paradigms of colonial heritage restoration in the British Caribbean after WWII. Using plantation restoration schemes as case studies, it dissects the practices of leading architects and institutions to show how their redesigns celebrate the power of the planter class while concealing the inherited structures of white minority rule that continue to shape postcolonial life. Second, Restoring Empire explores how a climate of postwar imperial loss, decolonization, and architectural devastation, met with racial panic over newly visible Caribbean migrant populations in Britain. The writings of Stuart Hall, Andrea Levy, George Lamming, and Ruth Glass illuminate these racial/spatial confrontations; read together, they provide a framework for the literary study of imperial built space. Third, Restoring Empire looks closely at the aesthetic remainders and inherited political silences of postwar imperial heritage culture to identify colonial logics that still operate in contemporary invocations of traditional architecture and planning. The literary-inflected defensive tracts of conservative British intellectuals such as Roger Scruton and the classical architectural mandates of white supremacist organizations such as Traditional Britain Group make vivid the relation between the protection of empire’s monumental structures through narratives of heritage preservation and the preservation of structural racism. The stories that the built world embodies and tells about slavery and empire’s pasts matter. The vast social imaginaries produced, mediated, or erased by architecture have meaningful consequences. By examining public memory as a product of architecture, design, and architectural narrative, Restoring Empire is a starting point for my long-term goal of expanding the interdisciplinary study and pedagogy of postcolonial space and aesthetics.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

Files in This Item:
This content is embargoed until 2022-06-26. For more information contact the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.