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Schilling, Britta

Schilling, Britta

Individual Fellow

Beyond the Bungalow: An Entangled History of the Colonial Home in Africa

Research Question

‘Safari style’, ‘colonial style’, ‘Swahili chic’: the contemporary home furnishings industry abounds with references to the colonial past. But what was life in the colonial home really like?

Project Description

This project locates the roots of a contemporary middle-class trend for ‘global’ furnishings in the history of the colonial home. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the study compares British, French and German colonial domestic design, construction and living between c.1850 and 1960. It considers the impact of ‘the nation’ on European colonialisms in the private sphere and in the everyday lives of Europeans and non-Europeans. Attuned to what happens when ‘grand designs’ meet local knowledge, the research presents a critical reading of the colonial home that includes discussions of domestic utopias, but also considers the colonial home as a place of work, violence and resistance.

Selected Publications

B. Schilling, ‘Furniture and Furnishings: Transnational Production and Consumption Networks in British and German East Africa’, in A Cultural History of the Home in the Age of Empire, ed. Jane Hamlett (London: Bloomsbury, 2020).

B. Schilling, ‘Everyday colonialism: street names and the (un)making of imperial debris’, in Decolonising Europe? Popular Responses to the End of Empire, ed. Berny Sèbe and Matthew Stanard (New York: Routledge, 2020).

B. Schilling, Postcolonial Germany: Memories of Empire in a Decolonized Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).


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