Red Pitched Roofs: A (Post)Colonial Genealogy of Architectural Identity in the Jerusalem Area
red roofs

Focusing on the implementation and perception of red roofs in the context of Palestine-Israel, this paper examines how it turned into a symbol of settlercolonialism. Conducting a genealogical analysis of the use, and avoidance, of using this architectural element, this paper explains how it constantly shifted from one side to another, starting as an urban Palestinian component in the late nineteenth century, turning into a sign of Zionism, and then becoming Palestinian once again by the early 2000s. Using the framework of schismogenesis, that is, the act of self-definition through differentiation, this paper first challenges the common conception of the red roof as a foreign colonial element and shows how its appropriation and reappropriation were an integral part of national narratives. Therefore, more than asking whether red roofs are colonial or not, this paper asks when they became perceived as such, examining the consistent inconsistency of nation-building processes and their relationship to architecture.

Author biography: 

Gabriel Schwake is assistant professor in the Art and Culture, History and Antiquity Department at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. He is the author of Dwelling on the Green Line: Privatize and Rule in Israel/Palestine (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and several articles focusing on the influences of neoliberalism and nationalism on the process of spatial production.

The author would like to thank his colleague Sven Lütticken for “unconsciously” helping him develop his argument when discussing the works of Didi Huberman and Aby Warburg.” He also thanks Daniel Schwake for his assistance in applying the framework of schismogenesis in the context of Israel/Palestine.