SAH 2023 Annual International Conference


Hotel Bonaventure Montreal credit Jean Bellefleur

Call for Papers: SAH IDEAS Sessions

The Society of Architectural Historians will present the two SAH IDEAS Sessions at its 2023 Annual International Conference:

"Custodians of the City" in Montréal, Canada, April 12–16
“Challenging Inequity in the Classroom: Pedagogies of Difference,” Virtually, September 20–22

Part of the SAH IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Sustainability) Initiative, the SAH IDEAS sessions explore topics related to race, equity, and social justice, and are presented alongside the conference's thematic sessions.

Deadline: Sunday, September 25, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT)


Custodians of the City

Montréal 2023 (April 12–16)
Session Co-Chairs: Dorothy Tang, National University of Singapore, and Eunice Seng, The University of Hong Kong

What is the place in architectural history for the custodians of the city—those who
care, guard, and repair buildings, streets, parks, public spaces, and infrastructures? Recent scholarship
on the global mobilities of labor has attended to the gendered and racial politics of professionals and
experts, sparked renewed analyses on postcolonial histories of architecture, and expanded our
understanding of agents beyond the global north. However, from building construction to occupation
and maintenance, the routine labor of custodians who keep the city running daily—sanitation workers,
maintenance workers, security guards, and domestic workers—fade into the background. Their housing
and workspaces are residual or liminal spaces subservient to those they maintain. These custodians are
often migrants, undocumented workers, or day laborers with precarious status. Nevertheless, their
custodial work is crucial to uphold state agendas, corporate interests, and our conveniences.

By centering custodians and their work, we question existing methodological approaches to
architectural history that rely on primary sources and archival records. Archives reflect dominant power
structures of their times and either exclude or stage the mundane work of routine maintenance,
obscuring regimes of discipline and violence. How do we read against the grain of existing accounts to
recover the agency of custodial work in shaping the environment? What positionality do researchers
assume when tracing such processes, relationships, and spaces? We seek papers that go beyond the
post-colonial critiques of subjectivities and post-war discourses of transnational expertise to foreground
the bodies and spaces that perform custodial work to maintain the everyday functions of the city. We
are interested in how systemic exclusion produces spatial practices, domestic spaces, rest and leisure
spaces, or workspaces occupied by the custodians of the built environment. Importantly, we seek
contributions that explore the interplay between the maintained spaces, service spaces, and the politics
that enable them.

Challenging Inequity in the Classroom: Pedagogies of Difference

Virtual 2023 (September 20–22)
Session Co-Chairs: Tara Bissett, University of Waterloo, Canada, and Amari Peliowski, University of Chile

Renewed interest in alternative practices of pedagogy and research in architecture have led to the development of new narratives about architecture as a critical project. New discourses often emerge from practices within architecture school, an exceptional space that offers potential for novel forms of action and for change, but can be fraught by the tension between the production and reproduction of canonical knowledge.

It is this space of possibility that we wish to explore in this session. Panelists are invited to share recent histories that have disrupted conventional expectations of research and teaching and have critiqued reproductive practices and canons. How has protest, transgression, collaboration, and the centering of difference led to a rethinking of educational and research methods? What types of systemic challenges have these interventions revealed? 

This session welcomes papers that expand the conversation on how we might do things differently. How have horizontal strategies and collaborative modes of teaching and writing (re)centered historically marginalized voices? What happens when citational practices are reinterpreted, as Sara Ahmed suggests, to challenge the reproduction of established discourses? What has been the impact of lived experience of difference in altering pedagogy and practice? As Eve Tuck has shown, these new fields of discourse seek desire-based frameworks of research and pedagogy that are shaped by “the self-determination of lived lives.”

This panel welcomes contributions that build on the critique of modernism’s universalism and explore global architectural pedagogies and research practices from 1950 until now. Of particular interest is how these histories might mobilize a powerful genealogy of social practice that challenges inequities of class, race, gender, sexuality, and ability in the architecture classroom, enacting meaningful change in curricula, research, and practice.

Submission Guidelines

  • You are unable to submit if you are already a confirmed 2023 Session Chair or Speaker
  • Abstracts must be under 300 words.
  • The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  • Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Only one abstract by an author or co-author may be submitted.
  • A maximum of three (3) authors per abstract will be accepted.
  • Please attach a two-page CV in PDF format. 

The submission deadline is Sunday, September 25, 2022, at 11:59 pm CDT. If you have questions, please contact Christopher Kirbabas at

The submission portal has closed. Thank you.


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610