Paper Session Descriptions
Advocacy, Activism & Alliances in American Architecture Since 1968
Recently, the #MeToo movement has brought to light serious issues of gendered power dynamics operating in architecture schools and offices. This is not the first time a social movement has provoked change in the discipline and practice of architecture. In the wake of the civil rights movement, African American architects founded the National Association of Minority Architects. In the 1970s, women in architecture organized feminist professional organizations and began the work of recovering the history of women’s contributions to the build environment. In the 1980s, LGBT architects engaged in AIDS activism as they watched many of their colleagues and friends die of the disease. These are all part of a rich but understudied and undertheorized history of activism in architecture. This session asks how do we study the history of the profession, and the built environment it has produced, through the lens of social activism? What are the methodologies for recovering these histories? How can they challenge canonical architectural histories of their periods? What are the strategies for conveying these histories?
Building on the material collected for the groundbreaking exhibition Now What?! Advocacy, Activism & Alliances in American Architecture Since 1968, this session seeks contributions that examine the connections between architecture and the important social movements of the last fifty years. Many histories of women and minority architects have already been produced. We are not looking for papers that replicate this work, rather we seek work that examines the histories of activism that has made the entry of these groups into the profession possible and the ways that designers have engaged with issues of gender, race, queer identity, ability, and class to support underserved communities. We are particularly interested in papers which examine these histories through an intersectional lens.
Session Chair: Andrea Merrett, Columbia University
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Architectural and Urban History of the South Caucasus
The South Caucasus, conceived broadly as the territory across the Republics of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, (eastern) Turkey, and northern Iran, preserves some of the most extraordinary and yet understudied architectural monuments and urban spaces known. Its landscape is studded with churches, monasteries, mosques, madrasas, and medieval and modern urban spaces that reflect the historically diverse communities that populated the region.
Even a cursory examination of the architectural cultures across these modern nation states, and across the centuries, reveals the mobility of patrons, architects, and masons, and the existence of shared or competitive cultures. Scholarship, and scholarly institutions, have begun to recognize these connections, as evidenced in publications as well as teaching and mentoring initiatives.
In the wake of this new wave of interest, we wish to invite scholars whose work is connected to the South Caucasus to consider the following questions: what is the relation of your monument (or site, tradition, or urban space) to neighboring cultures? If there are connections, how have they been characterized in the past, and how do you seek to describe them? Most of all: what are the theoretical and ideological problems at stake in doing so? How, why, and when should one break from previous scholarly norms, and how does doing so affect the potential for granting the South Caucasus greater visibility in the history of architecture--if that should even be a goal. Papers are welcome to consider any aspect, monument, site, or region, from antiquity to the modern era, that address these questions.
Session Chair: Christina Maranci, Tufts University
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Architecture of Extraction in the Atlantic World
In the early modern Atlantic World, a number of cities and regions in the colonial Americas experienced a growth in population and material wealth as a consequence of mining, agricultural, and manufacturing industries. This prosperity required a built environment in which to grow and flourish. Extraction impelled construction from buildings and technologies indispensable for the mining and processing of natural resources (silver refining plants, sugar mills, boiling houses, water infrastructures) to constructions dedicated to their storage, commercial exchange, and coining (mints, treasuries, market spaces, custom houses). Such colonial industries comprised another complementary architectural body: the residential quarters of those who labored in or benefited from this landscape of extraction (slave barracks, sheds, country houses of planters and mine-owners, etc.), and the infrastructures designed to provide some modicum of physical and spiritual wellbeing (hospitals, churches.)
Recent scholarship has reconsidered the multifaceted history of the agricultural and mining industry in colonial Spanish America from the perspective of its capitalist production and global economic transformation, its impact on the shaping of urban communities, the cultural production that emerged from mining districts, and the environmental degradation caused by some industries. Less attention has been given to the architecture and infrastructures that shaped and were shaped by this landscape of extraction. There is a need, furthermore, to examine the built environment of Atlantic World extraction in a global and comparative context, considering the function of this architecture and how it was lived and experienced by multiple human actors. This session examines the constitution of extractionary landscapes as systems and material networks that brought people, space, and labor together in the project of harvesting raw materials, refining, exchanging, and thereby generating value in the world market and within local economies.
Session Chairs: Luis Gordo-Peláez, California State University, Fresno; and Paul Niell, Florida State University.
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Architecture of Spanish Italy
How does architecture reflect if not define a political domain? This central question drives this panel exploring the built environment of places in what is today called Italy and, in the early modern period, formed part of the Spanish Monarchy. Since the middle of the fifteenth century, Aragonese rulers held territories in southern Italy, Sardinia, and Sicily. With the rise of the Spanish Habsburgs in the early 1500s, Spanish imperialism came to affect political as well as cultural developments in Milan, Genoa, and even Florence. In recent years, Italian Renaissance art history has begun to account for the Spanish presence in Italy with renewed effort. In an influential essay published in 2013, Michael Cole challenged specialists to reassess the artistic output of political and cultural exchange between Italy and Spain by considering Spanish networks of artists and patrons working on Italian soil and extending their impact far beyond [see “Toward an Art History of Spanish Italy,” I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance 16, no. 1/2 (2013)]. The beyond is especially relevant for architectural history, as architects, theorists, and patrons in Spanish Italy traveled widely. Although they might have resided in Lombardy or Palermo, many of these individuals would previously have spent time in Iberia, the Low Countries, or, eventually, even the Americas. Places as varied as Madrid, Rome, Naples, and Seville served as crossroads for architectural production in Spanish Italy, as has been illustrated in groundbreaking research by Alicia Cámara, Diana Carrió-Invernizzi, and Sabina De Cavi that revises traditional notions of geography to tell stories of architecture shaped by people, books, and ideas on the move. Papers that explore particular cases of architecture in Spanish Italy and/or buildings, landscapes, or individuals across the Spanish Monarchy that contributed to developments in Italian places are especially welcome.
Session Chair: Jesús Escobar, Northwestern University
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Building Non-Alignment: Neutralism and the Global South, 1950-80s
Architectural history's global turn has opened up important questions regarding the worldwide circulation of architectural expertise, materials and construction processes. Moreover, recent contributions to post-colonial history have challenged the discipline’s epistemic hierarchies that privilege the colonial frameworks of power. Despite these breakthroughs, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)—arguably the most ambitious post- and anti-colonial project of the Cold War era—remains almost completely unexplored as a vehicle of architecture’s global circulation.
Nonalignment sought to connect the recently decolonized countries into a network of solidarity that would replace colonial dependence, while eschewing the gravitational pull of the two superpowers. The movement’s historical impact has declined since the 1980s, but its underlying concept of ‘neutralism’ remains valuable to our understanding of cooperation in the Global South. Neutralism replaced the old ideal of ‘peace’ with ‘human dignity’ and ‘justice,’ allowing in turn the newly decolonized nations to develop a wide pattern of political, economic, and cultural relations, and to avoid economic control by the superpowers. Originating in the early 1950s, this framework for a potential South-South cooperation greatly expanded by the 1970s, seeking the establishment of an entire new economic order.
This session invites explorations of architecture’s role in the construction of the Non-Aligned Movement, and conversely, the movement’s impact on architecture’s circulation across the Global South. Possible topics include: education of architects in the networks of non-aligned solidarity; transnational technology transfers; summits of non-alignment as the basis for developing hospitality infrastructure; non-alignment as the facilitator for the expansion of business, and so on. We welcome empirically based theorizations on the role of ‘neutralism’ or ‘non-alignment’ in the development of unique architectural projects. These could consider the issue of supposed equidistance from the two superpowers; the power relations within the Global South itself; or the moral ideals of ‘human dignity’ and ‘justice.’
Session Chairs: Vladimir Kulić, Iowa State University and Amit Srivastava, The University of Adelaide
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Chinoiserie: Imagining Self and Other in Architectural Culture
This panel seeks papers that examine the ways Europe, Asia, and Africa have historically imagined one another through their architecture and decorative arts. Although the term “chinoiserie” has historically referred to the mixture of “Oriental” and European styles prevalent in European courts during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, recent historical scholarship has pointed to the ways that this intellectual approach not only exoticized Asian, African, and Ottoman subjects, objects, and landscapes in European material culture, but was also a form of self-representation at a critical turning point in world history. Furthermore, the taste for “the exotic” was not limited to the European aristocracy during the Baroque and the Enlightenment. Asian monarchs like the Chinese Qianlong emperor and the Siamese King Chulalongkorn built palaces and gardens that imitated Western models, a practice that can be understood as “occidenterie.”
This panel welcomes papers that critically re-examine the history of chinoiserie, understood in the broadest terms as a trans-regional appropriation of form, by attending to its associations with materiality and the global redivision of labor in the building trades, its embeddedness within burgeoning colonial networks of trade and their attendant spatialization of the concept of race, its translation of regional idioms into a universal formal grammar, and its merging of distinct categories of design (architecture, interior decoration, landscape design, and the fine arts) into gesamtkunstwerke.
Session Chairs: Jean-François Bédard, Syracuse University and Lawrence Chua, Syracuse University
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Coastal Landscapes and Politics of Leisure in the Global Sunbelt
After World War II, leisure tourism was launched as the centerpiece of many postwar economies and national development programs in different countries, cutting across the ideological divides of the Cold War and appealing to the newly independent nations of de-colonized regions. A rich array of physical spaces, coastal landscapes, tourism infrastructures and architectural typologies proliferated, evoking new concepts of leisure, relaxation, vacation and travel in the modern world. From the “International Style” hotels of the immediate postwar period to critical experiments with low-rise typologies and/or vernacular references, architectures and landscapes of tourism projected a recognizable, reproducible and seemingly a-political aesthetic of leisure that often masked underlying histories of conflict, inequality and/or environmental damage.
Aiming to highlight the global reach, theoretical significance and historical legacy of this topic, we invite historically contextualized case studies of tourism architectures and landscapes (beaches, beachfront hotels, littoral roads, ports, marinas, camp sites, motels, vacation villages and resorts). We limit our geographical scope to coastal developments (that are more readily associated with images of leisure tourism among other possible forms of tourism), especially in regions of warm and mild climates that we capture by the term “global sun belt” (including but not limited to Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean) –a term which, beyond its obvious climatic connotations (associations of leisure with sunshine), also addresses economic and political geography (opportunities of coastal sites, peripheral economies, cheaper labor, cheaper land values and attractive scenery). We invite papers that approach the topic from a wide range of theoretical positions that are critical and not merely descriptive. We especially welcome histories that engage with new theories and critical debates on how specific national development agendas, tourism policies, professional discourses of expertise and multiple trans-national encounters have informed spatial (geo)-politics of leisure in the postwar period.
Session Chairs: Sibel Bozdogan, Boston University; and Panayiota Pyla, University of Cyprus
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Collecting the Uncollectable: Architecture in the Museum
The paradox of the architectural exhibition, in which conceptually complex and physically large works of architecture threaten to exceed the space in which they are presented, can be extended to the collection of architecture by museums and other cultural institutions. In that context, objects and spaces never intended to be apprehended in the museum are nevertheless acquired, displayed, and reinterpreted according to its biases, which include a foregrounding of aesthetic distance and an emphasis on origin and authenticity. Scholarship on architectural exhibitions largely focuses on contexts with contemporaneous disciplinary significance: specialized architecture museums that primarily collect drawings and models, large influential exhibitions staged by major art museums, and the recent profusion of architectural bi- and triennials. The scholarship of architectural museology has the potential to address other prevalent ways in which architecture is collected and musealized, such as period rooms or other exhibitionary scenography, archeological fragments presented individually or as a refashioned whole, environments that stage both the building and its urban context, or instances when the museum’s own building serves as a central feature of its exhibition. These forms are generally not self-reflexive, but rather present extra-architectural narratives about history, culture, or heritage.
This session invites papers that address the problematics of architecture’s musealization and collection through case studies of institutions, collections, or individual objects in underexamined forms and contexts. Papers on any location or time period may address such questions as: What regulatory regimes or policy developments have emerged to account for the collection of architecture? What new interpretive lenses or display strategies structure interaction with musealized architecture? How do curators reconcile the conflicting demands for architecture to serve as both a primary object of concern and a scaffold for other collections or narratives? How does the collection of architecture pose alternatives to modern art-historical notions of authenticity?
Session Chair: Elizabeth Keslacy, Miami University
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Designed Landscapes through Time
The laws of entropy dictate that change is a basic property of existence consequential to the form and evolution of designed landscapes. Erosion and sedimentation, the processes of wearing away and building up, continually reshape the land. Vegetation changes through stages of growth, decay, and passing. This session will focus on duration and change in designed landscapes such as the garden, the park, and the plaza, but will also include the despoiling and remediation of industrial wastelands and the byproducts of grand infrastructural projects like the dam and the interstate highway.
Some might consider the design of landscapes as an attempt to stifle change and maintain a constant condition—or to at least keep change within an acceptable framework. Yet even the woods of Versailles have been harvested more than once, and in recent decades a major storm instigated their extensive replanting once again. In the nineteenth century the Renaissance form of the Villa Medici at Pratolino fell to the naturalism of the English landscape garden, and from lack of maintenance Dan Kiley’s NCNB Bank Plaza in Tampa today lacks trees. Contemporary concerns for global warming, polluted brownfields, and handicap accessibility have all resulted in new incarnations of prior landscapes—and the pace of change is increasing.
This session welcomes proposals for papers that consider changes to designed landscapes by and over time. These include, but are not limited to: the effects of environmental forces such as temperature increases, major storms and floods; political decisions that establish the creation of major parks or restrict the acceptable species of street trees; social programs such as reform movements, programs for recreation, and even the so-called “rewilding” of formerly developed land; and the efforts to restore and upgrade derelict landscapes in relation to today’s standards of safety and maintenance.
Session Chair: Marc Treib, University of California, Berkeley
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Designing the Global Countryside
The question, how to shape the “countryside,” has arguably been the central design problem of twentieth-century architecture and planning in the global arena. While architectural histories of modernization have mostly focused on urban projects, the question of the countryside was integral to the problems these schemes sought to address. Entangled in social and environmental geopolitics of colonial regimes, decolonized nation-states, Cold War bipolarity, asymmetries of international trade, and programs of developmental aid, the countryside appeared as a theater that an expanding set of “experts” in both national and international context sought to control. Recent scholarship has drawn critical attention to some of these dimensions challenging the rural-urban dichotomy in architectural historiography (EAHN 2016: The Modern Village; EAHN 2018: Modernism and Rurality). This session seeks to expand and deepen this discussion by inviting historical studies of the various forms of architectural and spatial typologies generated to intervene in the countryside. It seeks to historicize how the countryside figured as a global spatial and design problem seen through scientific and aesthetic assumptions tied together by the idea of “development.”
We take development both as a doctrine and a set of practices focused on raising the “productivity” of land and labor that originated in the late 19th century and continues in various forms into the very present. We welcome case-based papers that focus on architectural, infrastructural or planning projects that were part of broader developmental attempts to reconfigure rural landscapes across multiple spatial scales and different temporal and geographical contexts: from colonial irrigation infrastructures and land reform schemes to national rural development projects, to transnational corporate agricultural landscapes and beyond. Studies that examine the countryside as a critical site for reconceptualizing socio-ecological patterns and reforming long-established traditions of indigenous economies, customary laws, and intricate human/non-human relations are particularly welcome.
Session Chairs: Ijlal Muzaffar, Rhode Island School of Design, and Petros Phokaides, National Technical University of Athens
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Diasporic Architectural Histories
Architectural historiography is challenged by the architecture of migrant communities and migrant individuals. Framing this architecture as nostalgic for the homeland or as aspirational status symbol dehistoricizes the discourse, embedding it in a mythic past and an illusionary future. Equally as often this architecture is not perceived as different to the architecture of its context or its difference is diminished as ornamental aesthetic. Positioning diasporic architecture within ‘sameness’ or ‘similitude’ has resulted in limited examinations. Migration scholars criticise the use of migration and the migrant figure as narrative trope, arguing that a conflation between migration and mobility displaces the historical determination of unprivileged migration. The use of mobility and transnationalism as tropes in twenty-first century architectural historiography can unwittingly erase migration histories.
Pioneering scholars in this field point to the multiple situatedness of migrant architectural production - destination sites, homeland hinterlands, dotted along migration trajectories - as well as processes of procurement and construction. Migration studies complicate the boundaries of agency, normativity, and performativity/desire of the human subject. For example, what does late nineteenth century architectural history look like from the perspective of trans-cultural labour migrations of the first industrial revolution? This session draws on a current momentum of scholarship at the interface of migration/architecture and aims to explore architectural historiographies of the diasporic conditions.
The session invites investigations including –
- The potential de-centring/re-centring of what is taken to be architectural culture as spaces are/have been adapted/transformed by changing cultural demographics.
- How migration and movement of peoples (or movement of ideas/technologies onto peoples in place) leads to re-making/re-imagining/disrupting ideas of national/local spaces and places
- Borderline spaces and subjectivities caused by conflict, human displacement and material degradation, and the affective and resilient practices by which those affected adapt and recover these spaces for varied forms of occupation and dwelling.
Session Chairs: Mirjana Lozanovska, Deakin University and Anoma Pieris, University of Melbourne
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Early Modern Production and Conversion of Architectural Knowledge
This session explores transregional productions and conversions of architectural knowledge in the early modern period, from the 16th to the mid-18th centuries. How was knowledge produced in workshops, on-site, or through books? What kinds of knowledge circulated through material, visual, and textual sources during cross-cultural interactions? What kind of transformations or conversions did they go through in global encounters? Recently, knowledge production through architectural practices and material encounters became important themes. Scholars attended to new venues of knowledge in workshops, construction sites, academies, laboratories, and travels. Diverse groups, including scholars, officials, scientists, and architects, interacted in contact zones. However, this issue remained underexplored at a transregional and global level. How did diverse forms of knowledge on built environments circulate globally with the movement of architects, ideas, images, and objects? Which political, scientific, topographical, and cultural contexts transformed them in new locales? How did this new knowledge transform the architectural practice and theory in Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia? This panel will address questions on the ways in which visual, material and intellectual circulations transformed and converted architectural knowledge both in practice and theory. Themes may include: early modern map-making and geospatial knowledge of cities during exploration and colonization ventures; patterns, sketches, and drawings for circulating architectural knowledge; representations of new building types including hospices and coffeehouses by travelers for different purposes; knowledge production through military engineering; formation of architectural practices in colonial and viceregal settings; indigenous-settler relations in colonial architecture; writing, translating, or interpreting architectural treatises or texts in vernacular languages; receptions of European architectural treatises across the globe; new botanical knowledge in garden design; and classifications of architectural knowledge of the world in books, encyclopedias, and museums. Papers that discuss interactions between the Middle East or Latin America with Europe, Asia, and Africa, are particularly welcomed.
Session Chairs: Gül Kale, Carleton University and Juan Luis Burke, University of Maryland
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Earthly Desires: Ecofeminism and Spatial Histories
The authors of Ecofeminism (2014), Vandana Shiva and Maria Mies, make a direct link between the capitalist exploitation of the environment and the oppression of women across the world. Positioning these phenomena as two interconnected, indeed parasitic, modalities of modernity these two environmental activists from India and Germany call for a dismantling of the very patriarchal power structures that underlie scientific rationalism and its attendant instruments of knowledge. In this session we seek papers that link feminist thinking with environmental analyses; ecological histories with women’s and gender studies; and planetary theory with feminist and queer critique. Our goal is to twofold: first we would like to pressure the masculinist prejudices that continue to determine the spaces of architectural history, especially those that continue to validate the “male genius” architect or feebly insert women architects into a canon defined by patriarchal values. Instead, we petition for a new imagination whereby female agency and creativity present radical potentials for environmental and climate crises, ecological denudation, and resource famines. Second, we seek a new vocabulary for the methods of architectural history. What does architecture look like at the planetary scale and through the eyes of a woman living in the global South? How might we rethink the urgency of the climate crisis via the habitus of indigenous women and children living in New Zealand or Bangladesh?
Session Chairs: Mrinalini Rajagopalan, University of Pittsburgh and Shundana Yusaf, University of Utah
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Emotions in Nineteenth-Century Architecture
The nineteenth century was an age of shifting sensibilities and attractions, in which psychological attunements and emotional responses to the built environment prompted a reconsideration of architecture’s significance. Emotions or feelings generated by the built environment were registered by sensible observers, and shaped the lived experience of modernity. How did writers in this period describe the “emotional dynamics” of architectural spaces, both as generators and repositories of feeling? And how did users manage feelings in their encounter with particular spaces? The new technologies of the nineteenth-century urban environment created or reconfigured opportunities for feeling, and arguably produced new emotional responses of their own: what do nineteenth-century emotions owe to the changing architecture of this period? By what means did architects seek to promote, manage, or neutralize specific moods or emotions? How did emotions “circulate” through architectural intentions, individual experience, or collective memory, in buildings, urban environments, streetscapes, landscapes, and gardens?
This session aims to investigate new models of architectural history that undertake the analysis of spatial or icono-textual evidence in search of emotional meaning. We invite proposals for papers on any aspect of nineteenth-century architecture and dealing with any geographic region. We especially encourage proposals that deal with the epistemology and/or methodologies of the history of emotions, and how these might be incorporated into architectural history. Papers looking at contexts outside of Europe and its colonies are particularly welcomed; what other models of architectural emotion, mood, and atmosphere were operative in these locales? How did western visitors read (or mis-read) the emotional content of non-western spaces? Finally, how does evidence of emotional responses shift our understanding of nineteenth-century spaces, and what might architectural history contribute to the historicizing of emotional experience in this period?
Session Chairs: Keith Bresnahan, OCAD University, and Cigdem Talu, McGill University
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Energy and Architecture: A History and Pedagogy for Our Times
The architectural profession has struggled over recent decades to reconcile the immense contribution it makes to greenhouse gas emissions. Much architecture is now heavily dependent on energy-hungry services, material procurement, and construction methods powered by fossil fuels. Campaigns like ‘Architects Declare’ and ‘Architectural Education Declares’ encourage practitioners and educators to commit to reducing these emissions. To date architectural history has made only a modest contribution to understanding this critical problem. In addressing our current climate emergency, awareness of energy consumption must be inculcated at every level in architectural education, including through the teaching of history.
Such an agenda cannot be limited to the history of ‘green’ architecture, or that of pre-industrial, passive forms of building. As important as these are, they are not (of themselves) capable of foregrounding (and thus confronting) the historical nexus between architecture and energy consumption. Crucially, this nexus must be understood beyond the level of design, function, and use to include the contexts of production, transportation, and assemblage. Embodied energy is a key index to the true energy costs of building. Only when the various chains and networks of procurement and supply are taken into account can the carbon footprint and wider thermodynamic consequences of building production be properly appreciated.
We invite contributions that highlight the nexus between design, building practice, and energy consumption in the history of architecture, including strategies for repurposing its pedagogies. Papers may include assessments of embodied and operational energy in architecture (of any period and place); case studies of the relationships between energy change and architectural change; and interrogations of the historiographic assumptions around architectural history in light of increased energy use, climate change, and notions of the Anthropocene. We welcome contributions that consider the pre-industrial, industrial, and post-industrial past worldwide, including the architecture of early modern, medieval, and ancient civilisations.
Session Chairs: G. A. Bremner, University of Edinburgh and Barnabas Calder, University of Liverpool
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Framing Questions and Stories on Archives of the Global South
For the architectural and urban historian, the archival repository has long enabled, exaggerated and occasionally undermined interpretations of the built environment. Yet, within the Global South, the archive demands patient interpretations of the intertwined past. It also awaits the revaluation of its role as an invaluable muse facilitating views of history from within. Researchers have relentlessly grappled with these unique challenges, often defying the expectations across the Global North. These challenges range from restrictions of access, limitations in range/scope/organisation, to tactical responses towards potential imperatives of archival constraints. Most importantly, within the younger nation states of Asia and the Middle East, the archives must now unravel the contentious politics and conflicts involved in the processes of identity making and unmaking. Positioned within the archive’s timely yet understated role within the Global South generally, and across Asia and the Middle East more specifically, this panel seeks proposals interrogating deep interpretations of architecture, urbanism and natural landscapes built on reconsiderations of the archive and introductions of innovative methodological approaches. Our definition of what constitutes an archive or the archive surpasses traditional limitations, provocatively extending to include the realms of landscape and built environment as repositories and traces of the past. In our gamut of theoretical/methodological discussions/focus on a particular case study, we welcome papers addressing the logistics, content and reconstructions as topically pertinent to specifically identified archival repositories. We also encourage discussions that move beyond the examination of formal collections (documents, maps, drawings, diaries), to explorations of informal/unconventional collections (oral repositories, ethnographic, cultural surveys, landscape, urban cadasters), and incorporating the digital humanities (computer aided reconstructions, satellite imageries). Most importantly, our panel leverages how ‘thick archival readings’ self-consciously illuminate the temporalities of time, space and cultural heritage, transforming absences and silences into tropes and opportunities, while enabling invisible players, marginalised events and sites.
Session Chairs: Manu P. Sobti, University of Queensland, and Sahar Hosseini, University of Pittsburgh
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Graduate Student Lightning Talks
The Graduate Student Lightning Talks provide graduate students with the opportunity to test ideas, refine thoughts, and enhance presentation skills among a circle of empathetic and supportive peers. This session is composed of up to 16 five-minute talks of approximately 650–700 words each that allow graduate students to introduce new and original research in various stages of progress. In their presentations, students are encouraged to raise questions over the direction of their investigations, explore methodology, or present challenges they have encountered in the development of their ideas. Papers should be clearly and concisely presented, with focused and well-chosen images, in order to encourage thoughtful feedback from the audience during the question and answer period. Students at both the master’s and PhD levels are invited to apply by submitting a succinct abstract of no more than 300 words. Authors/co-authors must be graduate students at the time of the conference and must present in person at the session. The SAH Board of Directors’ Graduate Student Representative serves as chair of these popular five-minute presentations.
Session Chair: Vyta Baselice, George Washington University
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Habitat 67 and Post-War Architecture
Along with Buckminster Fuller’s US Pavilion built for Expo67, Habitat 67 is Montreal’s most iconic and internationally known work of post-war architecture. Designed by Moshe Safdie, an Israeli-born Canadian trained at McGill University, and subsidized by a governmental agency, Habitat is an experimental high-density urban housing complex. Its 158 apartment units are made of 354 prefabricated reinforced concrete modules stacked 12-storeys high in an irregular stepped-up pattern.
From the moment the project’s first images were published to the day of its inauguration, Habitat captured the architectural world’s attention, and was widely disseminated in the professional press (Beringer, 2014). Straddling typological and technological innovation, the project seemed to engage many issues in contemporary debates on the future of modern architecture. Over the years, Habitat has been read through various critical lenses, having been successively interpreted as a megastructure (Banham, 1976), a Mediterranean-inspired project (Sorkin, 1996), an embodiment of humanist architecture (Albrecht, 2010), and a representative of the Brutalist style (SOS Brutalism, 2018). Rarely, however, has Habitat been the subject of in-depth historical investigation. With the exception of Riar’s exploration of Habitat’s theoretical origins (2014), this groundbreaking complex is still in need of deeper analysis.
This session invites papers that address the before, during, and after of Habitat 67: its sources, commission, construction, critical reception, interpretation, as well as its impact on later models and practices. Papers may also explore ideas, protagonists, institutions, debates, and events, as well as projects and buildings that came to play a role in the complex’s history. Where does Habitat fit within the architectural history of post-war movements, of social housing, of geometrical experiments, of prefabrication, of industrialized construction, of megastructures, of brutalism? The goal of the session is to contribute to the reassessment of Habitat’s place within the theory, practice, and culture of post-war architecture.
Session Chair: Réjean Legault, Université du Québec à Montréal
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Identity, Memory, Values and Adaptive Reuse in Latin America
“A building has at least two lives - the one imagined by its maker and the life it lives afterward - and they are never the same.” Rem Koolhaas’s statement encapsulates the issue of interventions in old buildings that survive the original role and functions they had in the past. Since the 1950s, adaptive reuse in Latin America has increasingly become a unique disciplinary area of study and a practice. Its relevance has grown at a time of rapid development and globalization.
This session seeks proposals exploring the large theoretical and historical connections between cultural identity, memory, values, and adaptive reuse in Latin America resulting in interventions that are responsive and appropriate to local conditions through designs able to dignify life and enrich public participation, while being sustainable and socially responsible. While unstable social and economic conditions have contributed to the deterioration of their rich urban and architectural patrimony, there have been an important number of relevant interventions in Latin American countries still requiring critical study.
Larger topics can include inquiries into what strategies are most appropriate to reveal the tangible and intangible accumulated layers of meaning, serving the needs of contemporary society while still being cultural receptacles of memory. Also welcome are papers critically analyzing specific case studies covering a large range of approaches analyzing and interpreting how design methodologies in adaptive reuse address issues of collective or specific group’s identity, are able to reveal shared or excluded values, or advance regional and communal narratives. Examples may include, but are not limited to, smaller yet significant interventions to protect vernacular buildings in areas under threat of destruction, or the rehabilitation of decayed religious complexes compromised by later additions. Further examples can explore large-scale urban interventions in docks, abandoned industrial areas, silos, and waterfronts.
Session Chair: José Bernardi, Arizona State University
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Labor and Landscape
Landscape production refers to the everyday practices that derive various commodity products from manipulated and worked grounds, from agricultural yields such as produce and cotton to the infrastructural systems of roads, sewers, bridges, ditches, and utility networks that make cities possible. The process of working landscapes to extract materials, goods, and infrastructures yields new geographies that themselves become products for consumption. Productive landscapes have offered claims to mastery over extensive geographies by framing and thus aestheticizing views that often contain toiling bodies, ranging from depictions of an idealized peasantry cultivating the land to convict laborers building roads in Jim Crow Georgia. Cultivation, management, engineering, vernacular “structuring,” and perennial maintenance are spatial practices that form landscapes — whether agricultural, fallow, wild, or urban — while influencing our understandings of “environment.” Accordingly, the scenes, territories, topographies, and geographies emerging from landscape production serve as artifacts for cultural consumption while revealing aspects of the productive cultures responsible for their making.
This session seeks to reveal landscapes as the sites of work cultures, where laboring people create enduring forms and spaces as byproducts of their work. We seek papers that explore the theme of landscape and labor in all time periods and geographies, and that situate landscape histories in the context of their construction by featuring the people whose sweat and time shaped specific landscapes. Relevant topics may include: the afterlife of labored landscapes; the role of landscape production in positioning sites as completed rather than in process; and how issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality interface with landscape and labor. We seek to retain a broad conception of labor in the production of the built environment and welcome papers that use landscape metaphorically in relation to architectural or urban production.
Session Chairs: Jay Cephas, Northeastern University, and John D. Davis, Ohio State University
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Markets and Migration: Ethnic Spaces in the Urban Landscape
Studies of the global city have mainly centered on understanding the flows of finance capital and the consequences of neo-liberal policies that support corporate and private interests. Urban governance and commerce are often discussed through a macro-lens, and migration is commonly recognized as a consequence to the movements of capital and information. Overlooked are the ways in which the urban built environment has long been shaped intentionally by immigrants who find and make work often at the margins of these larger developments, creating their own particular transnational flows of goods, communication, and knowledge and claiming agency through transient and local acts of reuse, adaptation, and manipulation of structures, materials, and objects
This session focuses on the role migration has had in defining the identities of cities and their neighborhoods, examining how immigrants have shaped the urban landscape through commercial and mixed-use developments such as strip-malls, corner shops, and market stalls. The study of these interstitial spaces demands architectural analyses that can address ancillary spatial practices, global and transnational exchanges, markets and movements of people, goods, and symbols specific to urban minorities. We welcome papers that address the ways in which commercial endeavors by immigrants, defined by the particular locale, have contributed to the forms and histories of a given city at all geographical and temporal scales from the environmental, historical to the ephemeral, from the storefront, street, neighborhood, to the region. Topics that address social identity formation, place-making, and self-representation through building and using commercial and mixed-use spaces are encouraged. We especially appreciate contributions that provide a methodological counterpoint to macro-analyses of the concept of global cities with micro-histories that focus on the particularities of a given site and the agency of immigrant urban actors.
Session Chairs: Arijit Sen, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Min Kyung Lee, Bryn Mawr College
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New Material Histories of Architecture
Building architecture requires materials. This truism links architecture to its hinterlands— forests, quarries, mines, oil wells, laboratories, production plants, transport and storage infrastructure—as well as to the businesses, knowledge, and labor that turn matter into materials and materials into buildings. What does the history of architecture look like when the extended trajectories of building materials are made the subject of research, writing, and pedagogy? This panel seeks papers that answer this question, investigating architecture through its materials. Historical and methodological contributions—whether within or across geographies—are both welcome.
Modernist narratives of architecture and urbanization have already been revised to acknowledge their reliance on craft modes of production and to contextualize the modernist movement within larger processes of modernization whose forms often bore no traces of aesthetic revolution. Nevertheless, over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, changes in material production, supply, and consumption were also changes to architecture as both building and discipline. Yet, far from an irresistible “flood” of industrialized materials into the building, the construction of materials and of buildings were both far more entangled, relying on both workshop and material science, rule-of-thumb and patent, propaganda and counter-propaganda.
Of particular interest are contributions that follow thematic areas such as: the spaces, sites and landscapes of material sourcing and disposal; the fumes and dust embedded within and emitted by materials during processing, construction, use, and demolition; and the relation of these materials to environmental and social injustice at scales ranging from the bodily to the planetary. To follow the resources and energy, capital and labor that spin out from building and unbuilding, we assume that panel contributions will link architectural histories to other disciplines, including studies of environment and energy, economic geography, urban political ecology, material anthropology, the history of science and technology, or related disciplines.
Session Chairs: Kim Förster, University of Manchester/MARG, and Sarah Nichols, Rice University
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No Small Acts: Spatial Histories of Imprisonment and Resistance
Histories of prisons run parallel to the control of populations, from racialized enslavement and enforced labor to political containment and disappearance. The internment camp has been mobilized as a technology to contain political prisoners, refugees, and other intellectually and physically mobile actors claiming their right to move, to speak, and act by their reduction to bare life. Rather than reasserting narratives of subjugation, this session brings together histories of architectural enclosures that focus on the operative role of the imprisoned, the enslaved, the othered and their agency within these spaces to act against containment and control. We seek to discuss work on political prisoners, racialized prisoners, gendered prisoners, those imprisoned by virtue of their legal status and the national boundaries they have crossed, and those isolated by their environmental, health, or labor conditions. In particular, we are interested in illuminating modes through which people have resisted forms of carceral oppression, as acts of protest, as a continuation of life, as a form of writing persecution into evidence, and forms of care both individual and collective.
Messages sent through walls, voices that carry within small passages, memorizing names or perhaps faces to keep track of those who might soon ‘be disappeared,’ we argue, are no small acts, but rather significant actions that operate spatially to break up these enclosures. We understand these actions as forms of architecture-making and solidarity-building. Ultimately, this session theorizes spatial narratives of solidarity, community, and resistance as components in the struggle of the disenfranchised. We encourage submissions that work with intersectional feminism, Decoloniality and Decolonization, Black Radical Theory, Pedagogy of Freedom, Coliberation and other theoretical positions that start with the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the imprisoned as agents.
Session Chairs: Ana María León, University of Michigan, and Sophie Hochhäusl, University of Pennsylvania
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Open Session (2)
Two open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Papers submitted to the open sessions are assessed in terms of perceived merit, and not in regard to geography, era, theme, etc.
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Port Cities and Landscapes of the Sea
Ports and port cities are distinctively malleable, permeable places. They are defined by morphologies that articulate shifting perspectives on urban spaces and the landscape: center and periphery, endurance and transformation, safety and upheaval, cultural affirmation and social critique, knowledge and memory, land and sea. Historically and across the world, ports have served as outposts of culture, meccas of trade and wealth, cultural crossroads, and sites of arrival and exile defined as much by human and maritime transience as by the relative permanence of their architecture. Despite their vulnerability to the ravages of cultural conquest, economic hegemony, and, more recently, anthropogenic climate disruption, ports can, in their openness, also represent physical, economic and social shelters from these crises. Similarly, they function as places of imaginative travel, both utopian and dystopian, that evoke memories of forgotten pasts and visions of potential futures.
How do we understand the landscapes of port and sea? What questions do they raise about isolation, exile, insularity, identity, conquest, survival, entrapment, and control? How have they served as terrains of social and cultural criticism? How do their boundaries, imagined and real, shape and contain the design narratives they protect? What role will they play as landscapes of mediation and places of connectivity in an increasingly diversified world?
This session invites papers exploring the landscapes and architectural spaces of ports, their cities, and their oceanic hinterlands. It conceives of port cities as places of retreat and isolation as well as of terrains of connectivity and domains of shared technological prowess. We welcome papers addressing issues of landscape and marine architecture, urban space, and the landscapes of both land (garden, city, botany, etc.) and the sea (currents and sea lanes, ships and reefs, war, trade, and harvest, etc.). The call is open to studies addressing any period or geographic region.
Session Chairs: Kathleen John-Alder, Rutgers University, and Stephen Whiteman, The Courtauld Institute of Art
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How are unconventional forms of evidence and data that are either missing from traditional archives or transformed in the digital age changing the methods of architectural history? How do we account for the fact that across time and space, ordinary people living under a variety of circumstances have built, inhabited, moved between, and even destroyed buildings that we, as architectural historians, cannot reconstruct, visit, survey, or measure? The current proliferation of digital images can draw attention to human rights violations, and expose connections between constructed space, political power, intentional destruction and forced migrations. From the era of transcultural enslavement to the contemporary moment when state violence is the norm, questions surrounding the role of what is often politically charged evidence have transformed the writing of architectural histories.
This panel seeks papers from any time period or geographic region that marshal alternative, non-canonical forms of evidence to shed light upon that which is lost, destroyed, or recovered in the wake of social conflict. We intend to inspire a discussion on the ways in which we can rethink the nature of evidence, revise traditional methods, and perhaps adapt new strategies from other disciplines like anthropology, sociology, legal studies, or the history of science. The unique archival “find” continues to drive much significant and valuable architectural history, even as more and more material is made available in digital formats thus altering the very essence of expertise. In accepting the integration of new approaches into the discipline, we are also interested in papers that think through the extent to which the traditional archive is still an essential resource. We invite either case studies or broader critiques that address unexpected or unconventional methodologies, and that examine new approaches to the role of data and evidence in the making of architectural history.
Session Chairs: Dwight Carey, Amherst College, and Karen Koehler, Hampshire College
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Revisiting Pilgrimage Spaces in the Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, men and women of diverse social classes traveled from near and far to visit key pilgrimage sites such as the Holy Land, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, and Mecca. In addition to these famed destinations, local sites and saintly relics increasingly attracted large groups of visitors, and were used as justification for sumptuous building projects. Because pilgrimage sites provide logical points of contact for the exchange of ideas, experiences and commerce, art and architectural historians developed a narrative that suggests there was a particular architectural form with specific features in order to make it easy for visitors to navigate the space. As a result, studies have traditionally focused on a specific church, mosque or shrine, often neglecting the numerous buildings and infrastructure necessary to receive large groups of visitors (e.g. inns, bridges, and roads).
This session seeks to extend traditional inquiry to consider the varied design solutions employed in the Middle Ages to accommodate the diverse uses of pilgrimage spaces. Paper proposals may consider questions such as: How do pilgrimage sites accommodate large and diverse groups of visitors, while also serving a local community? Are there more fruitful ways to discuss medieval pilgrimage and its architectural solutions? Can new approaches to data and visualization aid in analysis of the diversity of buildings both along established pilgrimage routes as well as less well-known destinations? How can the consideration of landscape or topography change or enhance our understanding of pilgrimage spaces? How can we integrate discussion of the numerous buildings and infrastructure necessary to receive pilgrims when so few examples survive? The session welcomes papers on subjects from Latin, Byzantine, and Islamic contexts.
Session Chair: Kristine Tanton, Université de Montréal
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The 60s: Canada Thinks Small?
In 2004–2005, the Canadian Centre for Architecture created the exhibition: The 60s: Montreal Thinks Big. Surveying the city’s physical transformation over a decade, the exhibition presented the 60s as a collection of soaring skyscrapers, highway interchanges, and concrete megastructures clothed in the language of internationalism. Indeed, the dramatic reconstruction of Montreal’s downtown core is just one example of how a postwar mania for internationalism swept across the country, from Vancouver to Halifax. Yet, by viewing the 60s as emblematic of Canadians’ desire for greater global connectivity, historians have also sustained a hegemonic view of modernization that reinforces the neoliberal agenda of political, media, and propertied elites who saw the postwar city as the physical embodiment of their own desires. In particular, existing scholarship overlooks the role of the small-scale and intimate in forming spatial and conceptual nexuses of individual and group identities within (and outside) the emergent metropolis.
This session invites authors to reflect on postwar architectural scholarship in Canada by working outside its traditional frames of reference. Through a return to the local and the intimate, we invite readings of Canada’s built environment that pluralize its discourse, while highlighting the complexities of class, gender, and racial politics in an era of rapid change. To what extent did major construction projects play an imaginative role in structuring notions of modern Canadian citizenship? What conservative or anti-modern practices flourished at the small-scale? And how do suburban and peri-urban histories complicate our understanding of people’s experience and perception of postwar cities? Papers shedding light on the experience of women, immigrants, LGBTQ, or other, underrepresented groups are especially welcome, as are case studies highlighting practices that ran counter to the globalizing efforts of civic and state authorities.
This session is organized by the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada.
Session Chairs: Dustin Valen, Concordia University, and Michael Windover, Carleton University
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The Architecture Exhibition as Cross-Cultural Contact Zone
This session engages with the methodological challenge of writing a global history of architecture through the lens of architecture exhibitions operating as cross-cultural “contact zones.”
With a boom in cultural institutions placing architecture “on display” in the late 1970s, research on architecture exhibitions gained currency. In the past decades, scholarship has paid attention to thematic foci, to the curatorial strategies, as well as to the performative characteristics of exhibitions, yet has largely ignored the role that they play as sites of cross-cultural exchange that propel architecture culture. This is startling, since exhibitions have functioned as important platforms for the confrontation, exchange and development of architectural ideas from different cultures and geographies.
In this session, we want to explore the aptitude of the architecture exhibition to act as a cross-cultural contact zone. Mary Louise Pratt defines contact zones as “social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination” (Pratt, 1992). A “contact” perspective on exhibitions emphasizes how architectural concepts are constituted in and by their relations to one another. Instead of maintaining that architecture is driven by heroic individual architects and their “unique” ideas, it offers a perspective in which architecture culture is developed by the sheer co-presence, interaction and interlocking of people, theories and practices.
We invite scholars to explore the “contact” perspective, focusing on architecture exhibitions that not only played an important role in the Western debate but equally engaged in the confrontation between so-called “centers” and “peripheries.” They should trace how designers, projects and concepts from different cultures encountered one another “on display,” and illustrate how architectural ideas were not merely transmitted to audiences, but bounced back and forth multiple times and underwent a process of cultural negotiation and adaptation (transculturation).
Session Chairs: Tom Avermaete, ETH Zürich, and Cathelijne Nuijsink, ETH Zürich
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The Didactics of the North American Model Home
Domestic architecture created specifically for public display presents historians with an eloquent, sometimes paradoxical set of built artifacts. In “The Exhibitionist House,” Beatriz Colomina notes: “Many exhibition experiments gain their force precisely by physically disappearing while inhabiting the spaces of publication, of memory, of fantasy.” Model homes have proven an ideal medium for a complex range of messages. They invite viewers to imagine the texture of an aspirational daily life, revel in the achievements of the present, or project themselves into a future still under construction. Their immersive settings and staged intimacy can either obscure the mechanics of persuasion and promotion or boldly serve as material declarations of intent. Model homes have lent physical and emotional immediacy to propositions ranging from avant-gardist and consumer doctrine to celebrations of technological progress, cultural regionalism, and patriotic nationalism. This panel invites submissions that examine North American model homes - from the architecturally celebrated to the relatively unknown – as built objects, stage sets for the everyday, and case studies in the didactic use of domestic space.
The circumstances of model home creation, intention, and impact vary widely. We invite papers that examine how a given model home’s visitor experience, marketing, and media representations promoted the relationship between a specific domestic environment and a set of concepts or desired outcomes, whether advanced through consumer seduction, aesthetic precepts, or more overt pedagogical devices. Authors should address not only the architectural container but also interior appointments--furnishings, lighting, and other domestic equipment--for their contributions to the installation’s messages and readings. The curatorial, commercial, or social intentions of model home producers should be approached critically and interpreted in the context of public reception, journalistic responses to the installation, and diffusion or replication of model home concepts.
Session Chairs: Greg Castillo, University of California, Berkeley, and Elaine Stiles, Roger Williams University
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The Establishment of a Field: Architectural Education in MENA
The founding of the pioneering architectural programs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) stretched over a long durée, spanning from the establishment of architectural program at the Cairo University founded in 1880 to the foundation of the Government School of Architecture in Karachi in 1954. The complex timeline of these programs/schools vary significantly and was shaped both by the global dynamics and historic condition of the respective country’s political and economic trajectories. A parallel history of these programs will shed new light on how various key architectural concepts such as vernacular, climate, regionalism, modernity, and tradition were developed. Although most progenitors implemented Euro-American architectural curricula as their pedagogical template, very soon the questions of context, regional history, and social responsibility became imperative. At a time when in the MENA countries the emerging nationalist sentiments oscillate between ‘tradition’ and ‘development’, educators intervened not only to establish architecture as an autonomous intellectual domain but also to impact the practice of architecture.
This panel invites interdisciplinary studies that situate the establishment and development of the institutions against the unique socio-political contexts. Submitted papers may address a wide range of issues regarding the history of architectural education in the early and mid 20th century, including but not limited to, the introduction of new pedagogical techniques, and how the transnational exchanges of architectural pedagogy and its interlocutors influenced the epistemological discourse of the discipline. The papers may also explore to what extent architecture was seen as part of a broader institutional infrastructure (e.g., engineering, fine arts), and how the woman architects/educators, minorities, students, and even the public challenged the normative of architectural pedagogy. The papers may also explore how these programs adapted or resisted the hegemony of European and American pedagogy.
Session Chairs: Farhan Karim, University of Kansas, and Mohammad Gharipour, Morgan State University
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The Global Gothic
The term “Gothic” continues to refer to buildings with a combination of forms we identify as such today—pointed arches, rib-vaults, flying buttresses, gables, pinnacles, tracery, trefoils and quatrefoils, as well as deeply-saturated stained glass.
While masons in France brought these elements together in architecture during the twelfth century, and production of this new mode expanded to reach figurative and literal heights across Western Europe up through the early sixteenth century, it extended well beyond these traditional spatio-temporal boundaries. Gothic architecture has been built throughout the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and even in the Americas. While a working practice continued, iterations were crafted during a Gothic Revival from the eighteenth century onward, and Gothic forms continue to inspire contemporary architects across the globe. It is therefore inaccurate to identify Gothic narrowly as particularly medieval or Western European. Its reception and recreation around the world confirm Gothic as a mode of architectural production that retains an integrity distinct from Classicism and Modernism.
This panel aims to examine how Gothic forms have been adopted and redefined beyond Western Europe. What Gothic forms travel, in what circumstances do they travel, and how can their adoption or adaptation be explained? Lacking a singular treatise or manifesto, is Gothic a vernacular working practice, a form of eclecticism, or rather, do its forms usually just connote the structures of European power? How does greater insight into “Global Gothic” nuance European Gothic? The goal is not to delineate a larger style, but to critically examine a long-lasting architectural practice from a broader perspective, to see what that greater view can contribute to our understanding, and description, of the phenomenon as a whole. Papers on related subjects spanning not only the globe but also different periods history, from the twelfth through to the present century, will be considered.
Session Chair: Meredith Cohen, University of California, Los Angeles
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Transnational Histories of Architecture and Racial Violence
In recent years, scholars of American slavery have expanded their geographical and methodological frames. While building on earlier comparative work, these approaches are less structural and more networked, tracking material, institutional, and intellectual regimes of racial violence and dispossession across borders through narratives intertwined with capitalism and imperialism. Beyond this historical reframing, recent scholarship on the interrelationship between black diasporic experiences and ongoing forms of racial violence also challenges us to consider what it means to live and work “in the wake,” as Christina Sharpe puts it, of slavery. This panel considers the role architectural history can play in these transnational webs and wakes, building on our discipline’s tradition of comparative analysis to consider the representational and spatial modalities of racialization.
A growing body of work by architectural scholars has taken up related aims, much of it centered upon reappraisals of the colonial origins of architectural modernism. But as Cedric Robinson has shown, racial capitalism’s veins run much deeper and wider than its modern appearance. This panel thus aims to consider racism and settler colonialism through temporally and geographically wide-ranging, transnational connections.
We invite papers on what N.D.B. Connolly calls the “infrastructural forms” of white supremacy. This might include shared corporate or governmental models of expropriation, human trafficking, and labor exploitation after the purported end of the slave system; the plantation economy and its impact on resettlement, reparations, land use or housing; or layered environmental and economic histories of neocolonial inequality. We also seek new readings of more traditional architectural subjects such as the interiors of plantation big houses or the representation of power in civic architecture as they relate to broader practices of racialization. We particularly welcome work that puts the architectures of American slavery and their afterlives into conversation with the Atlantic World and beyond.
Session Chair: Maura Lucking, UCLA & Bryan Norwood, University of Michigan
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Utopias of the Self
Modern architecture was perennially burdened with the tasks of initiating either a “new age” or cultivating a “new human,” alternating between which should precede the other to effect the most profound social transformations. But as much as it was revolutionary, avant-garde design was equally reparative and ameliorative--an apparatus at once inextricably bound to modernity, and at the same time imagined as a cure against its ills. This reparative conception posited a human subject understood not only in social, but in physiological, spiritual, and, increasingly, psychological registers. As such, avant-garde architecture and design culture constituted one of the most enduring religio-therapeutic complexes of the twentieth century. After WWII, its revolutionary ambitions shorn away, modern architecture developed toward an ostensibly more grounded and pragmatic engagement with social life. Frequently, though, this thin veneer of realism was pulled aside to reveal persistent metaphysical aspirations. By the end of the 1960s these aspirations joined another “New Age”; a newly institutionalized and commodified therapeutic culture that promoted the agency and authority of the individual over their psychic fates and environmental circumstances alike.
While architecture’s complicity in processes of subjectivation is commonly acknowledged as a function of modernity, dominant (Marxist) histories have mostly eschewed considerations of the individual subject, dismissing it as an alibi for the interpellation of broader social categories. This panel asks instead how architectural history might deal with these categories not as fixed, but as alternating patterns of self and collective, personal and political, secular and sacred, inside and outside. We welcome papers that explore how religio-therapeutic practices have informed and/or are informed by post-WWII architectural culture, but we are also interested in earlier iterations of architecture’s engagement in questions of therapy, wellness, mind-body intersections, self-development, psychology, consciousness, and personality.
Session Chairs: Victoria Bugge Øye, Princeton University, and Larry Busbea, University of Arizona
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What is the New Architectural Archive?
Architectural practice has evolved to encompass a wide range of practices and approaches, from photography to theoretical exploration. At the same time practitioners are increasingly reliant on technologies such as computer-aided design (CAD) or the techniques of data science. As a result, contemporary architectural archives contain a diverse range of materials and formats, both physical and digital. As both the nature of such archives and archival practice has changed, has the practice of architectural history changed in response? Are architectural historians prepared to confront either the diversity and scale of the materials and formats that comprise architecture and design archives, or the changed nature of archival access in the digital era?
Answering such questions requires collaboration across stakeholders, a group that includes designers, archivists, historians, and technologists. To identify opportunities for such collaboration, this session will explore how changes in archives are influencing the production of architectural history. How is the materiality of archives changing? How can or should digital objects operate as evidence on which to base historical narrative and/or argumentation? Are there specific strategies that might be necessary for conducting research in an archive that might contain tens of thousands of drawings or a preponderance of digital materials? What about the choices archivists make about what to digitize, which can make particular practitioners or collections more or less visible?
The goal of this session is to better understand the state of the field of archival research so as to articulate the particular difficulties associated with contemporary architecture and design archives, as well as new approaches researchers might employ in accessing such collections. We welcome papers that address a wide range of archive and practitioner types, across various geographic and historic contexts and from researchers who have worked in archives that presented unique challenges.
Session Chairs: Emily Pugh, Getty Research Institute, and Ann Baird Whiteside, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
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