The Architecture of Ethnic Enclaves

September - December 2018

For my last term of undergraduate studies, I enrolled in a directed studies course. In this course I was given the opportunity to research a topic of my own choice pertaining to history and theory of architecture, guided by a professor from the department. My supervisor for the project is Professor Morgan Currie. He is an inspirational lecturer, popular among students, and knowledgeable about global cultures, having previously lived in Rome. 

My decision to study ethnic enclaves came from my interests in untold stories and societal architecture along with the undeniable fact that globalization and migration is a historical and continuing phenomenon. 

I see ethnic enclaves as the mark of global immigration in foreign and sometimes, unwelcoming countries. Their architecture is vernacular, built on circumstance and natural instinct. I want to know how much of this architecture is a representation of the enclave's home country, and how much of it is a self-realization of a new identity.

How can we ensure the organic growth of ethnic enclaves to maintain their spirit? Will more enclaves form as new immigrant populations arrive? What can ethnic enclaves teach us? 

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I, myself, was born in Kolkata, India, before its name was changed in 2001 from Calcutta to Kolkata. As I am an immigrant to Canada myself, I have endured through (and still do) the feelings of alienation, questioning of identity, a balancing of different worlds, cultures and languages... However, I can also understand that these feelings come in different forms and strengths to each individual, allowing no place in my mind for generalization of people. These narratives are complex, which make them all the more worth studying and uncovering.