Change the world

25/03/2024

Reasons to be Proud #R2bP: Nelson Mandela University’s doctoral student in Architecture student Kawthar Jeewa was invited to recently present her research at the weeklong “Decolonial Practices” workshop, organised by the School of Architecture of Nantes (ENSA-Nantes) at its Pierrefonds Campus in Mauritius.

Kawthar is completing her doctorate under the supervision of Professor Magda Minguzzi, a research expert on African vernacular architecture, indigenous tangible, and intangible heritage in South Africa. Prof Minguzzi has been her lecturer since her first year at Mandela University.

She is investigating the evolution of colonial architecture through Indigenous Knowledge Systems, namely, “How can colonial architecture be decolonised? A case study of Mauritius and Creole architecture.”

This follows her invited presentations on this topic to masters’ students at the Wei├čensee Academy of Art in Berlin, Germany in December and to second-year Architecture students at the University of Cape Town in October.

Kawthar presented via Zoom to 30 masters’ students at the workshop, together with experts and academic staff her preliminary investigations of her doctorate studies.

Last year, an international panel was created for this weeklong engagement focusing on decolonising the urban landscape and the history of Mauritius aimed at the masters’ students in Architecture and Urban Planning at the ENSA Nantes.

“The Decolonial Practices workshop on Urban planning was hosted by Professor of Anthropology Rossila Goussanou, and Professor of Geography Julie Gangneux, who provided an immersive view into the expansion of the colonial territories and the movement of people.

“Some important aspects of my presentation became the correlation between culture and architecture and addressing representation in the decolonial process. I had the chance to introduce this subject through linguistic and cultural concepts, which are often not associated with architecture.

“The goal was to show the students how to take a few steps back and reassess our approach to research. In turn this creates outputs that contextualises architecture as part of cultural development and attempts to rehumanise it”, Kawthar said.

The decolonial practice that she is most interested in, is to study the impact of people who were silenced: the enslaved and the marginalised, by mapping their contribution in the architectural expression of the island.

“It was a privilege to have an audience from different nationalities who engaged insightfully during the conclusive discussion. I am grateful for being given this platform and to have expert knowledge poured into my work. It is important to research on the past with an interdisciplinary focus, and in the case of Mauritius: language, culture, and anthropology becomes points of entry into decolonising the architecture from the colonial past.”

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160
elma.dekoker@mandela.ac.za