Like smaller scale domestic works in the region, palace structures in Sub-Saharan Africa were important manifestations of cultural identity and political power. Displaying a range of formal, material, and stylistic variation, palaces were the center of religious, economic, and political activities. Often organized as a series of courtyards, palaces were sites of tremendous artistic production and contain many of the most important cultural artifacts of their time. Lecture 2 focuses on a number of palaces but moves beyond simple formalist readings. Royal complexes were large buildings and symbols of wealth and prestige, but this power was a mutually constituted relationship involving a network of influences and actors. Rather than a linear process of meaning projection onto less powerful observers, this lecture emphasizes the diverse ways meaning was constructed in these extraordinary works of architecture.

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