Nuno Grancho: Asia on the Move: Two-Way Processes, Data and Legacy of Architectural History from Former Portuguese Colonial Territories in India

This research project aims to produce a new and bilateral understanding of knowledge about the spread of Portuguese colonial architecture and urbanism across India since the 17th c. (post-Enlightenment), by focusing on its semantics and materiality of objects and images, engaging both Western and non-Western environments and conversely the imprint of Indian architecture on Portuguese Western architecture and urbanism. It posits that the bilateral colonial channel (e.g. architecture made by the Portuguese in India), represented but one aspect of a larger multifaceted history that is equally the heritage of many others cultures and communities. By combining interdisciplinarity of art history and architectural history with museum studies and area studies’ knowledge, the intention is to map and analyze more complex and under-rated dissemination patterns and border-crossing relationships between Europe and India. By converging to objects and images (drawings in travelogues, Indian urban cartography, etc.) produced and used in the Indian subcontinent and neglected in the West, we seek to explore different historical and literary representations as sources for the production of knowledge and a reflection on the culture/power nexus, including transnational dynamics in its scope. The scientific focus will be on the development of a model for documenting and analyzing the transregional and transnational mobility/transfer/translation of architecture and urbanism between Europe and India as well as its appropriation. The emphasis of the research project will be on the mapping of the built environment itself as a key to document and study the coming into being of European architecture and urbanism in India and the counterpart, the imprint of Indian architecture on Portuguese Western architecture and urbanism and all the transnational issues at stake. This should allow gaining a better understanding of how European architectural and urban knowledge, expertise and practices have disseminated outside Europe in sometimes sinuous ways that cross national, colonial and linguistic boundaries.


Nuno Grancho is an architect, urban planner, architectural historian and theorist who works at the intersection of architecture, planning, material culture and colonial practices and its relationship with the transatlantic world and (post)colonial Asia, from the early 16th century up to the present days. Within this field, his research projects are focused on questions of human and material agency, the epistemology and geopolitics of architecture and urbanism as a technique of social intervention. Grancho specializes in the ties between colonialism, architecture and urbanism and has written widely about architecture, urbanism, art and architecture of empire, infrastructure, and the cultural landscape of European colonialism. Grancho holds a PhD in architecture and urbanism from the University of Coimbra (2017). In 2012, Grancho was a visiting researcher at the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Architecture and Settlement Conservation Department, Ahmedabad, India. In 2014 and 2015, Grancho was a visiting researcher at SOAS University of London. Since 2017, Grancho is a research fellow at DINÂMIA’CET- University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL).

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