Graduate Teaching Assistant: Urban (Hi)Stories, Fall 2017, 2018, 2019

For three consecutive fall semesters, I’ve worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant with Florian Kossak on his undergraduate + masters architecture course ARC303 Urban (Hi)Stories. As a GTA, I’ve given one guest lecture each fall semester to students based on my own professional in Accra and academic research focus, and also marked (graded) students’ final essay exams.

In each lecture, I’ve tried to blend architecturally relevant theory with practical exposure to design challenges in the city. In my 2018 and 2019 lectures, I presented and explored postcolonial criticism via the experiences of architecture and design, pulling from the works of Achille Mbembe and Homi Bhabha to critique architecture as a tool for colonial practices of segregation, exclusion, all embedded within a modern imaginary. I then traced the colonial mobilities of British architects and colonial ideas about modernity, progress and development (to be achieved through modernist design and planning). I then moved to critique the emphasis on urban modernity in the contemporary city’s design, and explored this through the practical example of the modern markets initiative in the city. This presentation helped us to explore our roles as architects, designers, planners when coming from ‘global north’ spaces to do design in ‘global south’ cities. Namely, how are we working toward liberatory practices, rather than re-producing colonial and postcolonial exclusions?

Each lecture session has provided the opportunity for me to connect with students (third-year architecture and masters in urban design students), and to provide a critical lecture connecting coloniality and architecture. Feedback I’ve received on my teaching from students:

“I’ll never forget your lecture on Accra (which for me was one of my favorite Humanities lectures ever). Also everyone I spoke to after your lecture said how much they enjoyed it! They all said you’re charismatic and that the talk was very engaging!” – student