Other(ed) Architecture: Coloniality, Subject, and Space

The aim of this seminar is to think critically about the authors and agents of architecture and the built environment. In examining relationships between ideological constructions of the modern “subject” and the physical constructions that shelter and house those subjects, we will ask: What counts as “architecture” and where do we find it? We will explore how architecture mediates between the project of modernity/coloniality and its silenced and invisible(ized) others. Furthermore, we will explore how space-making and othering are foundational to the project of modernity, and are intimately present in architecture’s technocratic canonization. We will question the subject of architecture: “How individuals are rendered as laborers, domestic workers, or immigrants in legal and cultural terms, and how the architecture of the camp, detention centers, plantations, and others solidify the symbolic and lived forms of these positions”. We will look at how the ideological project of modernity necessitates a colonial understanding of architectural space, and how difference and othering are built and made in/through space.

Through theoretical and historical texts, we will consider the lived-experience of subjects and discuses alternate archives of architectural knowledge production, particularly when looked at from its silenced margins. The aim is not to diversify a set of teaching materials in order to include “non-western” geographies, but rather to question the underpinnings of the discipline in the first place.

The semester is structured around 6 “frames”, each represented by two spatial typologies. Throughout, we will aim to think about these spaces and their associations with modalities of dispossession, resistance, and epistemic violence of silencing in multiple ways.
• Domestication – kitchen / gated enclave
• Circulation – infrastructure of movement / (slave) ship
• Extraction – plantation / factory and ports
• Bordering – walls and partition / street and threshold
• Detention – (refugee) camp / prison and detention center

This is a reading seminar, focused on in-class discussions of assigned texts. In addition, some weeks we will also focus on a film, fiction, or visualization project connected to the discussed theme. Assignments will be structured as short progressive writing exercises, culminating in a final research paper or annotated bibliography.