Samia Henni: "Colonial Toxicity” [res. Simon Gikandi]

Mar 26, 2024, 5:00 pm6:30 pm
N107 (SoA)


Event Description

Graduate Program in Media + Modernity | Princeton University


Samia Henni

"Colonial Toxicity”

[Response: Simon Gikandi]

Tuesday, March 26, 2024 @5pm ET

N107 (School of Architecture)


Between 1960 and 1966, the French colonial regime detonated four atmospheric atomic bombs, thirteen underground nuclear bombs and conducted other nuclear experiments in the Algerian Sahara, whose natural resources were being extracted in the process. This secret nuclear weapons programme, whose archives are still classified, occurred during and after the Algerian Revolution, or the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62). Colonial Toxicity: Rehearsing French Radioactive Architecture and Landscape in the Sahara brings together nearly six hundred pages of materials documenting this violent history of France’s nuclear bomb programme in the Algerian desert. Meticulously culled together by the architectural historian from across available, offered, contraband, and leaked sources, the book is a rich repository for all those concerned with histories of nuclear weapons and engaged at the intersections of spatial, social and environmental justice, as well as anticolonial archival practices.


Samia Henni is a historian of the built, destroyed and imagined environments. She is the author of the multi-award-winning Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (gta Verlag 2017, EN; Editions B42, 2019, FR), and Colonial Toxicity: Rehearsing French Radioactive Architecture and Landscape in the Sahara (If I Can’t Dance, Framer Framed, edition fink, 2024), and the editor of Deserts Are Not Empty (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2022) and War Zones (gta Verlag, 2018).


Simon Gikandi is the Class of 1943 University Professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Princeton University. Gikandi’s major fields of research are Anglophone literatures and cultures of Africa, India, the Caribbean, and postcolonial Britain; literary and critical theory; the black Atlantic and the African diaspora; and the English novel. His publications include, among others, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism (Columbia University Press,1997); Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Slavery and the Culture of Taste (Princeton University Press, 2011)


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