Architecture of Migration: The Dadaab Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Settlement

Environments associated with migration are often seen as provisional, lacking both history and
architecture. As Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi demonstrates in Architecture of Migration, a refugee
camp’s aesthetic and material landscapes—even if born out of emergency—reveal histories,
futures, politics, and rhetorics. She identifies forces of colonial and humanitarian settlement,
tracing spatial and racial politics in the Dadaab refugee camps established in 1991 on the Kenya-
Somalia border—at once a dense setting that manifests decades of architectural, planning, and
design initiatives and a much older constructed environment that reflects its own ways of
knowing. She moves beyond ahistorical representations of camps and their inhabitants by
constructing a material and visual archive of Dadaab, finding long migratory traditions in the
architecture, spatial practices, landscapes, and iconography of refugees and humanitarians.
Countering conceptualizations of refugee camps as sites of border transgression, criminality, and
placelessness, Siddiqi instead theorizes them as complex settlements, ecologies, and material
archives created through histories of partition, sedentarization, domesticity, and migration.

Speaker Bio:

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (she/her) was born in Chennai, India, and specializes in histories of
architecture, modernity, and migration, centering African and South Asian questions of
historicity and archives, heritage politics, and feminist and colonial practices.  Her
scholarship aims to foreground histories of marginalized people and figures and
promote practices of collaboration and support, especially concerning the lives and narratives of
communities that have been systematically excluded or silenced. Thinking through objects,
buildings, and landscapes, her work examines intellectual histories and diverse forms of esthetic
practice and cultural production. She is the author of Architecture of Migration: The Dadaab
Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Settlement (Duke University Press, 2023), Minnette de Silva
and a Modern Architecture of the Past (forthcoming), and co-editor of Feminist Architectural
Histories of Migration (Architecture Beyond Europe, Canadian Center for Architecture,
Aggregate) and Spatial Violence (Architectural Theory Review, republished by Routledge)

Department of Architecture Bilkent University FF-304A
06800 Ankara – TURKEY


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