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Never Again was there a City like Diu: Architecture, History, and Culture in Colonial Gujarat

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In this podcast Dr. Nuno Grancho, a postdoctoral fellow and Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen, discusses his research into the architecture of the island city of Diu, Gujarat, West India. Focussing on the five centuries of Diu’s Portuguese occupation (1514-1961) his work demonstrates the complex nature of overlap between spatial and functional categories in the colonial context. Dr. Grancho approaches Diu as a modern artefact of study, with his research extended beyond the tangible aspects of the city’s structure. In doing so, he argues that the history and theory of architecture and urbanism combined with the history and theory of the collision of Portuguese and West Indian cultures have created an exceptional urban architectural environment. This exceptionalism, as remarked by Dr. Grancho, is marked by the fact that “never again was there a place like Diu in the history of European colonial presence in India, in the history of colonial identity in India, and most of all, in the history of European colonial cities in India.”

By comparing Diu’s structure and organization to other European settlements (English, Dutch, Danish, and French), Dr. Grancho’s research contributes to the historiography of imperial architecture and architectural history. Specifically, it highlights the ethnic, racial, social, and spatial divide between Indigenous and European colonial settlements. With regards to the preservation of the rich history within the parameter of Diu’s urban environment, Dr. Grancho maintains that a balance must be found between what is heritage and what is vernacular, and contemporary building techniques of today must be used to preserve the authenticity of this exceptional city.

Links to Dr. Grancho’s Research:

Current Projects:

Previous Projects and Press:

Cover image via poida.smith/Flickr

This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC) and  Philip Gooding (postdoctoral fellow, IOWC, McGill).