Respondent to keynote lecture by Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, at conference KTH Stockholm, 8-10 September
Kenny Cupers is a scholar and educator who works at the intersection of architectural history, urban studies, and critical geography. Grounded in primary research, his work analyzes built spaces and systems in order to answer questions about power and historical change. His research focuses on the role of housing in urban and state transformation, the epistemology and geopolitics of modernism, and the power and aesthetics of infrastructure. Central to these interests is a focus on design—understood as a technique of governing and as a lens on human and material agency.
Cupers leads the SNF-funded project, How Infrastructure Shaped Territory in Africa and co-coordinates (with PI Bilgin Ayata) the SNIS-funded project, Infrastructure Space and the Future of Migration Management. Through these collaborative projects, he is developing a research agenda centered on the relationship between infrastructure, sovereignty, and the urban—with a particular interest in African struggles for decolonization.
His forthcoming book The Earth that Modernism Built is a historical study of German imperialism in southern Africa and central Europe that proposes a new account of how land and life became objects of design.