CCA Fellowship

During my research fellowship at the Canadian Center for Architecture, I will examine the architectural, geopolitical, and cultural history of the African Nations’ Pavilion, “Africa Place,” built for Expo ’67 in Montreal, Canada. Thirteen African nations shared a single-story complex during the Universal Exposition, each allotted one or more squares within the gridded, modular space. For “Africa Place,” Australian architect John Andrews designed multi-peaked, tetrahedral roof units, painted yellow, which were grouped around an open courtyard. Eight of the thirteen nations were francophone—four from Equatorial Africa: Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Gabon; three from West Africa: Senegal, Niger, and Cote d’Ivoire; the eighth was Madagascar. These were separated spatially from their anglophone counterparts: Ghana represented West Africa, and Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania represented East Africa. Algeria, Morocco, and Egypt chose to exhibit with Kuwait in the “Arab Countries” pavilion, indicative of the political fissures that had developed between proponents of Pan-Africanism, Pan-Arabism, and Négritude. The revolutionary zeal expressed at the First Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers in 1969 would mark the end of Négritude’s claim to the black imagination, superseded by the writing of Franz Fanon and his critique of cultural, historical reclamation. Marking their neutrality, Tunisia, Mauritius, and Ethiopia each built pavilions of their own. To what extent was the linguistic-spatial divide in Africa Place a function of Canadian bilingualism, and to what extent was it a reflection of these same divides on the African continent itself? 

I am very grateful to the CCA for this invaluable research opportunity.