2021 Eduard F. Sekler Talk

SAH 2021 Virtual Conference

Architectural History or a Geography of Small Spaces?



An aesthetics of scale that correlates bigness, power, and modernity dominates architectural history and resists efforts to decolonize the discipline. This presentation endeavors to change these optics with a thought experiment. What would we find if we begin architectural history with the small space, small scale, and short duration? Might we find other actors and other stories if we turn to a geography of small spaces?

Swati Chattopadhyay is an architect and architectural historian specializing in modern architecture and urbanism, and the cultural landscape of the British empire. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, three fellowships from the American Institute of Indian Studies, a J. Paul Getty Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Grant, a Fellowship from the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship from Queen Mary, University of London, a Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities Fellowship, University of London, and the Society of Architectural Historian's Founder's Award. She is a Founding Editor of PLATFORM, and has served as a director of the Subaltern-Popular Workshop, a University of California Multi-campus Research Group, and as the editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH). She is the author of Representing Calcutta: Modernity, Nationalism, and the Colonial Uncanny (Routledge, 2005; paperback 2006), and Unlearning the City: Infrastructure in a New Optical Field (Minnesota, 2012). She has co-edited two books with Jeremy White: City Halls and Civic Materialism: Towards a Global History of Urban Public Space (Routledge, 2014) and Critical Approaches to Contemporary Architecture (Taylor and Francis, 2019). In 2018 she was named as a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians for a lifetime of significant contributions to the field.

About the Eduard F. Sekler Talk

The Eduard F. Sekler Talk
was established in 2018 by a gift from Patricia Sekler in honor of her late husband, architectural historian and longtime SAH member Eduard F. Sekler (1920–2017). The Sekler Talk brings a notable speaker to the SAH membership each year to address a topic related to architecture, urbanism, preservation, the state of the field of architectural history, or a combination thereof.

In 1955 Sekler joined the faculty at Harvard University, where he became the first director of Harvard’s renowned Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Sekler joined SAH in 1958 and served two terms on the Board of Directors (1963–1966 and 1970–1973). He also served on the local planning committee for the Society’s 1969 annual conference held in Boston. He retired as Harvard's Osgood Hooker Emeritus Professor of Visual Art and Emeritus Professor of Architecture.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
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