Recent scholarship in architectural history has poignantly articulated the role of architecture in shaping development discourses and practices in the post-World War II period, demonstrating the critical place of architects as “epistemic authorities,”
technical experts, and managers in efforts to reconfigure the future of territories, resources, and infrastructures (Aggregate, KTH Conference, Levin, Stanek). Although there is a tacit understanding that architecture was both an instrument and an
object of development politics, there is little focus on the media that created, established, challenged, and disseminated architectural expertise.
This panel will open a conversation on how media such as photographs, census, maps, diagrams, questionnaires, and manuals tainted and framed development projects. What kind of media did technical experts and architects use? What kind of biases did those
media carry and how did those limitations shape development discourses? Media and communication infrastructures were crucial components of the development dispositif, allowing for the circulation of projects and expertise, but media also became the living
record of development projects, the archives from which architects and foreign experts drew resources and knowledge. In this sense, we will also invite the presenters to discuss how these media complicate the historical task at hand, since our historical
knowledge of the period relies on the archives they inhabit.
The roundtable brings together historians of architecture and the built environment to explore the use—and abuse—of media in 20th-century development politics, geographically ranging from South America to Africa and Asia. Each of the six participants
will offer a five-minute presentation on one medium they encountered in the field or the archives, and discuss how media techniques and their limitations shaped development discourses and practices. Ateya Khorakiwala will present on photographs in
South Asia, Elis Mendoza on manuals in South America, Ginger Nolan on puppet shows in South Asia, Nushelle de Silva on traveling exhibitions in the Global South, and Ikem Stanley Okoye on documentary films in
Africa. The presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion grounded on two to three questions that will discuss media biases and limitations, the historiographical problems that arise from the use of media as evidence, as well as the role
of international organizations and private institutions in shaping those documentation practices. We will open the floor to a larger conversation involving the audience after 15 to 20 minutes. The goal is to demonstrate how media influenced the establishment
of development institutions and actors, the educational structures, contents as well as subjectivities, and ultimately the formation of archives and what we know about development today.
- Ateya Khorakiwala, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP
- Elis Mendoza, Doctoral Candidate at Princeton University School of Architecture
- Ginger Nolan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at USC School of Architecture
- Nushelle de Silva, Doctoral Candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Ikem Stanley Okoye, Ph.D., Associate Professor at University of Delaware
- Frederike Lausch, Ph.D., Research Associate at Technical University of Darmstadt, Fellow at the University of Arizona
- Olga Touloumi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Bard College