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Architectural History and Theory Seminar Series: Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Writing Global Histories: The Belgian Friendship Building

This event is hybrid and will take place in person and online.


Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Professor of Art History at University College Dublin

Speaker bio

Kathleen James-Chakraborty is Professor of Art History at University College Dublin where she holds an European Research Council Advanced Grant for the project “Expanding Agency: Women, Race, and the Global Dissemination of Modern Architecture.  Her books include most recently, Modernism as Memory: Building Identity in the Federal Republic of Germany (Minnesota 2018).

Lecture abstract

The Belgian Pavilion for the World of Tomorrow world’s fair held in New York in 1939 and 1940 was designed in part to advertise the riches it was reaping from its colonial administration of the Congo.  The government-in-exile ‘gave’ it to Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, where it still stands.  Although it is not clear that this gesture ever generated support for the Belgians from the university’s African American staff and students, the building did play a key role in the Civil Rights movement in the former capital of the Confederacy, hosting five speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King

Event details

5 Mar '24
17.15 - 19.15
In-person and online, open to all
Minto House, Elliot Room, 20-22 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JZ
Kathleen James-Chakraborty