Method Acts

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Questions of Field Work
Friday, December 17, 2021
1 pm PST / 3 pm CST / 4 pm EST
Program length: 90 minutes
Registration limited to 30 participants. Open to SAH members who are graduate students or emerging scholars. Please register only if you are able to attend live. This program will NOT be recorded.

This program has sold out, but you can register to put yourself on a wait list.


Javaria Shahid, Reconstructing Absences: Indian Indenture Labor, Botany, and Agrarian Science in the British Empire

Abhishek Bhutoria, An Experimental Methodology to Expound the History of Domestic Architecture of Barpak, a Nepali Himalayan Village

Mingqian Liu, Phenomenology in Historic Neighborhood Preservation

Speaker Bios

Questions of Archives and Resources
Friday, January 21, 2022
1 pm PST / 3 pm CST / 4 pm EST

Program length: 90 minutes
Registration limited to 30 participants. Open to SAH members who are graduate students or emerging scholars. Please register only if you are able to attend live. This program will NOT be recorded.

This program has sold out, but you can register to put yourself on a wait list.


Chelsea Spencer, Reading Numbers

Matthew Allen, Media Archaeology and Design Technics

Burcu Köken, Contending Architectures: Mimarlık and Rethinking Chronology

Speaker Bios

Method Acts is a series of virtual workshops focused on exploring scholarly techniques for graduate students and emerging scholars in architectural history and adjacent fields. This series of two events will be a forum for discussing new, alternative, and reconsidered methodological approaches to our work.

Historical methods are practices and are inherently political. The question of who gets to write history is inextricable from the politics of how it is written. The scope, subject, and mode of address, the accessibility of historical evidence, and the orientation of the researcher all condition historians’ encounters with the events and objects that we study. As architectural historians in early phases of our careers, we have the opportunity to orient our field toward broader forms of engagement with material evidence.

In conjunction with efforts to expand the topics that we select for historical inquiry, we must also reassess the ways that we approach those topics. As increasingly varied forms of evidence other than traditional architectural media provide the basis for the history that we write, we should also account for the format of media as epistemic categories.

Moreover, in situations in which archives are unavailable, non-existent or inaccessible, how can we, as scholars, continue to engage with research by the means available to us without sacrificing depth and details? How can our field nonetheless retain the ambition to construct a global architectural history? As scholars realign research towards engaged, activist, and decolonized methods, we propose an opportunity to ask questions of graduates and emerging scholars, to continue the work of shaping a more inclusive disciplinary field.

This workshop series confronts questions of methodology head-on. Each workshop will ask how new methods may prompt reconsiderations of content, both within and outside the mainstream. Anthropology, historical anthropology, science and technology studies, media archaeology, environmental justice history, translation studies, critical race theory, public history, feminist, gender, and queer studies, among other fields, have shaped and influenced architectural history; creating an interdisciplinary venue to expand beyond the traditional and the familiar. An essential aspect of this series of workshops will be rethinking how we relate to the subjects of our research and one another when discussing it. Toward that end, rather than a typical seminar-style format (with a leader and assigned reading), we propose a horizontally-organized structure in which we discuss works in progress. Authors interested in engaging methodological claims will select a portion of their work and other comparative works that align with or diverge from their approach.

Taking the abstract, bibliography, archive, fieldwork, and footnote as places where methods are imprinted, discussions will begin with 10-minute presentations by invited emerging scholars providing a concise overview of their research, their methodological frame, and a specific area where the intervention occurs: the abstract, bibliography, archive, or footnote. Following the discussions, the committee will moderate questions for approximately 60 minutes (with a 5-minute introduction and conclusion to the event).
Method Acts is organized by SAH Graduate Students Advisory Committee members Leslie Lodwick, Katerina Bong, Charlette Caldwell, Aslihan Gunhan and Antonio Pacheco. 


Javairia Shahid is a PhD student at Columbia (GSAPP), with a joint affiliation at the Institute of Comparative Literature & Society. Her research focuses on the history of knowledge production and labor in South Asia and the Indian Ocean world. Her work highlights the disjunctions and entanglements between the aestheticization of landscapes, the pecuniary production of land as resource, and the formation of human and nonhuman subjectivities.


Abhishek Bhutoria

Abhishek Bhutoria is a Nepali researcher, highly motivated and passionate about rural discourses particularly related to architecture, sociology, anthropology and creative methodologies. Academically, I have an architecture and urban design background and concurrently build interest in rural discourses. This interest and curiosity led me to pursue PhD at the Sheffield School of Architecture, University of Sheffield focusing on architecture, household, domestic life, socio-cultural processes and formation of newly rebuilt Himalayan villages of Nepal.


Mingqian Liu
Dr. Mingqian Liu is an Assistant Professor in cultural heritage and museum studies at Beijing Language and Culture University. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a PhD in Architecture in May 2021. Her dissertation is titled “Public Perceptions of Preservation Policies and Practices in Historic Neighborhood: A Case of Dongsi, Beijing, China.” Her research interests include architectural and urban history, heritage conservation and interpretation, and museum education.


Chelsea Spencer
Chelsea Spencer is a PhD candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture program at MIT. Stemming from her interests in nineteenth-century architectural production, information technologies, and political economy, her dissertation traces the rise of general contracting in the United States. Chelsea received an MDes from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a BA in art history from Emory University. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she was the managing editor of Log.


Matthew Allen
Matthew Allen researches the history architecture, computation, and aesthetic subcultures. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Architecture becomes Programming: Modernism and the Computer, 1960–1990, and essays in venues such as Log, Domus, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. He holds a PhD and a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University, and he has worked for MOS, Preston Scott Cohen, and other firms at the leading edge of contemporary practice.


Burcu Köken is an architect and a PhD candidate at TU Delft, the Netherlands, and studies in the Architecture and Democracy program run jointly with the Jaap Bakema Study Centre Het Nieuwe Instituut. Her research focuses on cold war architecture and politics in Turkey, focusing on the history of the journal Mimarlık. She received the IJURR Student Fellowship and the Netherlands Institute of Turkey Fellowship in 2021 for her studies.

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