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    'My Village': organising the world and structuring the colonial architectural archive

    Crinson, Mark (2023) 'My Village': organising the world and structuring the colonial architectural archive. Journal of Architecture 28 (3), pp. 434-458. ISSN 1360-2365.

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    The problems of archives accumulated under colonialism are now well known. This paper uses aspects of the Percy Johnson-Marshall Collection at the University of Edinburgh to reflect on how to interpret the archive not only through what it records, or the relation between what survives and what does not, but in terms of alternative ways of understanding the archive’s conceptual structure. As an influential post-Second World War architect and planner, active in Britain and in international organisations, Percy Johnson-Marshall’s (1915–1993) attitudes towards the work of the welfare state were significantly formed by his colonial background and his reactions against that background. This article draws out the deeper meanings of his archive by deploying A. J. Greimas’ ‘semiotic square’, as interpreted by Fredric Jameson. Explaining it first via the legal thriller Dark Waters (2019), which has an archive as its narrative pivot, the semiotic square is then used to map the conceptual structure of the Johnson-Marshall Collection. Finally, the article focusses on ‘My Village’, a set of papers in the collec- tion documenting a pedagogic project preparing Indian soldiers to reform their villages following wartime service. Here themes of organis- ation and disorganisation (good and bad villages) are specific articula- tions of the archive’s epistemology while the idea of collectivity is problematically related to them.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Architecture, Space and Society, Centre for
    Depositing User: Mark Crinson
    Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2023 14:50
    Last Modified: 11 Aug 2023 00:05


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