Subaltern Architectures: Can Drawing “Tell” a Different Story?

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This article considers the potential of drawing for studying subaltern architectures. The subaltern architectures under discussion are a series of markets in Cape Town, South Africa, which are occupied by refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from across the African continent. These are spaces that would usually fall outside typical architectural studies, as they are contested sites, often difficult to access and not found in formal spatial archives. This article asserts that these markets have a particular spatial value to their populations. It proposes that postcolonial studies and the concept of mimicry offer the potential to recognize the spatial value of these markets while remaining cognizant of the power dynamics at work in the process of researching subaltern spaces. One of the primary methods discussed is the use of architectural drawing as a means to study the often overlooked and unseen spatial practices of refugee markets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6:1
Pages (from-to)203-222
Number of pages20
JournalArchitecture and Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2018


  • Subaltern urbanism
  • subaltern architectures
  • migration
  • architecture


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