Events And Opportunities

Affective Architectures | CFP: Edited Book Collection

  • Dates: 17 – 17 Sep, 2017
  • Location: United States
  • Contact: Angela Person
  • Email: a@ou.edu
A growing literature at the interface of cultural geography and heritage studies theorizes the significance of affect in shaping embodied encounters at ‘places of memory’ (see Sturken 1997 and 2007; Landsberg 2004; Williams 2007; Crang and Tolia-Kelly 2010; Doss 2010; and Sather-Wagstaff 2011 on affect in heritage; and Hoelscher and Alderman 2004; Johnson 2005; Jones 2005; Till 2005; 2006; Legg 2007; Dwyer and Alderman 2008; Hoskins 2007; Azaryahu and Foote 2008; Rose-Redwood, Alderman, and Azaryahu 2008; Hoelscher 2008; and Stangl 2008, on geographies of memory). Moving beyond representational conventions, this scholarship marks an important shift towards the ‘more-than-representational spaces’ (Thrift 2004; Thien 2004; Bondi 2005; Anderson and Harrison 2006; Lorimer 2008) of contemporary memorial design (Heumann Gurian 1995; Yanow 1998; Vergeront 2002; Huyssen 1994 and 2003; Waterton 2014).

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, for instance, dominant modes of memorialization relied heavily on monumentality. This aesthetic and mnemonic genre served to preserve historical memory in place (see Nora 1989). Limits to monumentality came, however, in that as an immobile, static, manifestation of collective memory within the landscape, monumentality did the work of cultural remembering on its own (see Young 1994). Put otherwise: why remember if we have places that do it for us? As monuments became graveyards of collective memory over time, places for memory to live and die, the late 20th Century developed new memorial aesthetics favoring ‘anti-monumentality’ (see Carr 2003).

Breaking with the rules of traditional memorial design, including figuration, iconography, and doctrinal elements, the anti-memorial favors abstract, spatial, and experiential elements of memorial architecture. This trend prioritizes spatiality and the affective dynamics of memorial design in creating embodied experiences for visitors. As the scholarship acknowledges:

"Even as background, spaces are evocative. They speak to us. … The settings we inhabit—bedrooms and buses, airports and art galleries playgrounds and pubs, museums and mosques—shape us as much as we shape them" (Vergeront 2002: 8 and 12).

"Built spaces are at once storytellers and part of the story being told. As storytellers they communicate values, beliefs, and feelings using vocabularies of construction materials and design elements. … In this way [museum] spaces are both medium and message" (Yanow 1998: 215).

"[T]hinking about the spaces of heritage means shifting from the static ‘site’ or ‘artefact’ to questions of engagement, experience and performance. … These are all multi-sensual sites, alive with intense and often lingering sounds, smells, and sights" (Waterton 2014: 824 and 830).

Although monumentality has never been fully abandoned in western practices of memorialization, this shift towards 'affective heritage' (Micieli-Voutsinas 2016) has become commonplace in post-modern memorial architecture (see Heumann Guriun 1995; Linenthal 1995; Huyssen 2003; Savage 2009).

Unlike its mnemonic predecessors, affective heritage relies less on authoritative narratives and official rhetoric to shape and sustain meaning at commemorative sites. In affective heritage, the impetus is for visitors to feel meaning as it is produced through embodied encounters with and within memorial spaces. As Waterton understands,

"[N]arratives of affect are mediated in affective worlds that shape their receptions, tapping into everyday emotional resonances and circulations of feelings… … which means understanding heritage as a complex and embodied process of meaning- and sense-making" (2014: 824).

This is not to say that institutional narratives are irrelevant to, or ineffective in shaping visitor expectations. Rather, affective heritage mobilizes embodied experiences in relation to memorial dogma to produce a kind of ‘feeling truth’ for visitors. This is especially true at sites commemorating traumatic pasts. Here, the more-than-representational spaces of memorial and museal landscapes are vital to representing that which is 'unrepresentable' and unknowable: trauma itself (see Freud (1920-22) 1955; 1939; Felman and Laub 1992; Caruth 1995; 1996; Brown 1995; LaCarpa 1996; 2001).

This call for papers seeks to assemble a conversation among critical scholars interested in more-than-representational ways of engaging with places of memory and memorialization. Paper contributions grounded in theoretical, methodological, and experiential approaches are welcome. Some themes include, but are not limited to:

~ heritage architectures
~ performativity and spatial narratives
~ critical museum studies and space
~ hauntings, ghosts, and deathscapes
~ thanatourism and heritage economies
~ navigating emotion, embodiment, and subjectivity
~ methodological approaches
~ ethical dilemmas

Submissions: Please submit expressions of interest outlining your proposed paper in no more than 350 words by email to Jacque Micieli-Voutsinas (jmicielivoutsinas@clarku.edu) and Angela M. Person (a@ou.edu) before September 17th 2017. Accepted manuscripts will be due by July 2018 and should be no more than 6000 words, including references and notes.
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