Article

Architecture

Antoni Scholtens Folkers

in African Studies


Published online June 2016 | | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0184

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This bibliography approaches the topic of architecture from a broad perspective, subdividing it into the disciplines of architectural history, building technology, urbanism, and conservation. In this bibliography, “architecture” is defined as the expression of planning, design, and building on the spatial environment, from the scale of landscape to the individual dwelling, and encompasses both academically and non-academically (i.e., vernacular) planned, designed, and executed architectural works. The bibliography of African architecture is broad and complex. The African continent consists of more than fifty nations, which all have their specific history and character. From the viewpoint of climate and geographic conditions, Africa can be subdivided into three major zones: the northern Maghreb between the Mediterranean and the Sahara, the huge central part south of the Sahara and north of the Kalahari Desert, and South Africa. The second divide, on religious lines, follows roughly the geographic zones, with the Islamic north, Christian south, and Animist center. However, the East African coastal zone, stretching from Somalia in the north and the middle of Mozambique in the south, has developed a strong Islamic Swahili culture. The third, linguistic, divide into English, French, and Portuguese, caused by the colonization by European powers, has created a pattern more or less independent from the first and second divisions and was superimposed on the numerous existing African languages that are, by and large, spoken up to today. This mosaic has evidently created a great variation in culture and, what is more important for a bibliography, a varied historiography. On the Maghreb and South Africa, writing on cultural and technical subjects, including on architecture, goes back to the early-19th century, whereas the rest of Africa had to wait until the 20th century to see the first written records and studies to be produced. This is mainly due to the fact that African culture south of the Sahara was predominantly oral.

Article.  9723 words. 

Subjects: African History ; African Languages ; African Music ; African Philosophy ; African Studies

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