random thoughts on architecture history theory and criticism

Histories of Architecture Against, SAH 2018 CFP


I’m very happy to be chairing a panel at SAH 2018, St. Paul. It’s titled “Histories of Architecture Against” and you can find all about it and apply here.

Histories of architecture have revealed and shaped the pervasive presence of power and its agent, capital. The bond between power and the built environment is present in monumental state celebrations, vast privately-developed housing projects, and transnational infrastructural networks. Biopower regulates the authority of our institutions, the distribution of labor, and the construction of our bodies as gendered, racialized entities. Tracing the histories of environments shaped by power, architecture historians have either confirmed its authority by claiming it for the canon, or revealed its operations and their results in the production of buildings, infrastructure, and culture at large. While the former memorializes instances of power, the latter confirms narratives of oppression, and to a certain degree, their inevitability. In contrast to these histories, there is a growing body of research focused on the role of architecture in revolution, occupation, or dissent. This session looks to expand on this work by focusing specifically on the challenges of writing histories of architecture against— against capital, against the state, or other types of power.

We are interested in papers that consider the methodological complications of writing histories of disenfranchised and marginalized groups, and the challenges of representation, partisanship, and operative criticism. How do we position ourselves as historians within these narratives? How do we historicize the production of spaces of defiance? How do we trace systems and networks designed to promote non-compliance? We welcome case studies of architects operating against the state, as well as histories of actors shaping the built environment outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline, provided they reflect on their own historiographic approach. Various scales of research are welcome, from the biopolitics of the body to the transnational exploitation of territories. As a session focused on resistance to power, we are particularly interested in research from underrepresented regions and actors.

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Research as Praxis

The PhD architectural colloquium at Taubman College hosted Bryce Detroit and me on the relationship between research and activism. We haven’t figured it out yet but we had some thoughts.

20170331 taubman colloquium

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