Department of Politics and International Studies

African State Architecture

The African State Architecture project (ASA) brings together politics and architecture in Africa. It draws on fieldwork in countries across the continent to explore the shape of statehood, through a mapping of fascinating buildings.

Public buildings help define and articulate politics. They are commissioned by political elites to represent the state; but they are often viewed and used by the public in very different ways – sometimes as old and familiar family members, and sometimes as overbearing and oppressive objects of distrust and fear. A study of buildings can tell us a lot about how politics works and a lot about the nature of state-society relations.

The project asks: how does African architecture manifest statehood, and how is statehood understood in the ways citizens use, view and engage with the buildings of the state? 

The project looks at state architecture across Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It includes elite interviews, citizen focus group discussions, archival records and architectural mapping.

The research team comprises Julia GallagherDaniel MulugetaJoanne TomkinsonKuukuwa Manful , Innocent Batsani-Ncube and Emmanuel Kusi Ofori-Sarpong


We published a book in 2022, Architecture and Politics in Africa: making, living and imagining identities through buildings edited by Joanne Tomkinson, Daniel Mulugeta and Julia Gallagher (Oxford: James Currey, 2022). It is available as a free download.

Our articles published so far:

Further information

Find out more about African State Architecture, including our publications, exhibitions and films

Image by Julia Gallagher