United Nations in the Non-Western World: Norms and Forms of ‘Development’ Programmes - CFP 5th EAHN International Meeting, Tallinn, 13-16 June 2018.

Samia  Henni 's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2017
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Urban Design and Planning, Urban History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Humanities

Fifth European Architectural History Network International Meeting
Tallinn, 13-16 June 2018

CFP Deadline: 30 September 2017

United Nations in the Non-Western World: Norms and Forms of ‘Development’ Programmes
Tom Avermaete, Delft University of Technology (T.L.P.Avermaete@tudelft.nl); Samia Henni, ETH Zurich (arch@samiahenni.com)

Immediately after its establishment in October 1945, the United Nations (UN) founded the World Bank Group in order to invest in non-Western countries, boost their economic growth, and channel their modernization projects. With the gradual collapse of European colonial empires – which stimulated the creation of the Non- Aligned Movement – new states joined the UN and large-scale ‘development’ programmes were launched. Under the header of technical ‘assistance,’ ‘cooperation,’ or ‘aid,’ these programmes seem to have favoured Western urban planning policies and politics. Yet, in what exactly consisted these programmes and how did they operate? To what extent did these ‘development’ programmes affect the politico- economic sovereignty of non-Western countries? And how were Western values mediated, but also challenged and remoulded by the so-called ‘receivers’ of ‘development’ in the non-Western world?

This session aims to address these questions, and to explore the relationship between UN’s financial investments, political significances, and planning measures in Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia during the Cold War. The objective is to investigate the role of UN’s planning and financial bodies in the making of Western post-war international architectural and planning networks and organizations, on the one hand; and to scrutinize the roots of ‘development’ strategies and their impacts on the consolidation of newly independent states, on the other hand. Considering the 2016 decision of the World Bank to eliminate the term ‘developing’ from its official vocabulary, the session also intends to question the purpose of the UN taxonomies.

We seek papers that critically deconstruct the involvement of architects and planners in specific UN endeavours in non-Western countries, including international seminars, conferences, competitions, housing policies, infrastructure designs, and rural and urban planning. Of special interest are papers that disclose how particular projects or built environments had obeyed or disobeyed to UN ‘development’ directives and expose the multifaceted impacts of such programmes at national, transnational and international levels. We welcome papers that demonstrate a method for analysing architecture and planning projects in historically, politically, economically and geographically specific processes of UN ‘development’ programmes.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by 30 September 2017 to T.L.P.Avermaete@tudelft.nl and arch@samiahenni.com. Please include your name, affiliation, title of paper or position, a C.V. of no more than five pages, home and work addresses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.

Contact Info: 

Samia Henni, ETH Zurich (arch@samiahenni.com)

Contact Email: