Housing History as a Methodological Observatory
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Mediatising the domestic
As suggested by Edwards Clive, ‘home is both an idea and a reality’ (2005). As an idea, it is an archetypical space of belonging, a private project and social construct envisioned by architects and users alike. As a reality, it is the result of the interplay between the material necessities and aspirations of actors and agents involved in the production of ‘the domestic’: from forms and typologies of the home and its interior, to the nuclear family type, or the economic prospects of housing speculation. Alongside the disciplinary spaces of architectural discourse, this dialectic paradigm is generated and reinforced through larger cultural, political and social mechanisms, including financial ambition, gender roles, or national identity. ‘Mediatising the Domestic’ seeks to expose these broader issues that converge in the construction of the domestic environment, as both an idea and a reality. We look at the representational agency of popular media and non-canonical publications: from 18th-century pattern books to contemporary commercial catalogues, from housing magazines to social media. What does this media narrate and add to existing domestic discourses? What micro-histories can we detect from closer analyses and how do these relate to larger historical narratives? What can one learn from reading images, texts and commercial messages belonging to marginal, and alternative domestic representations?
On the one hand, these representations of the domestic reveal sub-cultures, trends, actors and stories which actively partake in the production of domestic space; on the other hand, they carry and generate stereotypical representations, reinforcing and formalizing, by means of repetition and dissemination, specific ideas of living. Through this material we can shed new light on how the notion of the domestic entails issues of gender, social identity and authorship; on how design canons and stereotypes are perpetuated within specific geo-political contexts; and how the ‘myth’ of the home is constructed by a constellation of figures and interests, from the housewife-consumer to the speculative developer. In bringing together different geographical, temporal and ontological media, the roundtable focuses on how the domestic is produced and reproduced through lesser-known means of communication and representation.
Design Pedagogies in Spatial Histories in Conflict
Drawing on the Histories in Conflict Interest Group’s interrogation of epistemic violence in narrating histories, this ‘hybrid’ event aims to discuss and reflect on the relations between historical research and design pedagogies in spatial histories of conflict. We invite participants to a discussion on the relations between historical research and design pedagogies and welcome 10min presentations addressing and expanding on the following topics:
- Can design tools support historical research to overcome limitations of archives and other silencing effects advanced by the discipline itself?
- Can design help produce new archives and histories based on multiple epicenters of power instead of privileging one-sided or hegemonic narratives of conflicts?
- Can design studio approaches be shaped in relation to silenced voices and what does such a goal mean for historical education and the role of architectural history and historians in design teaching?
- What can alternative design and spatial practices developed under the saturating/paralyzing effects of conflict, colonialism, and violence offer to historical research and design education?
We aspire for this event to lead to the formulation of a design/history syllabus/toolkit. In doing so, this event seeks to help architectural researchers, historians, and design studio teachers in challenging the
disempowering, invisibilizing, and paralyzing effects of the past and present of spatial violence and conflict.
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Event chairs and organizers:
The connecting ties between Europe and the Americas are undoubtedly of great relevance and have been considered by scholars and researchers from both continents, establishing a dynamic corpus of academic debates. For our third meeting in Madrid, we proposed a discussion on the cultural encounters between Latin America and Europe since the nineteenth century which might include topics such as the displacement of European-born professionals to Latin America, cross-transfers of modern architectural ideals and models through the written word as well as images, the Latin American historiographical constructions vis à vis the European Modern narratives, as well as Latin American architecture and urbanism, and the concepts of hybridization, translations, and cultural transference.
Postmodern Influences: Modes of Exchange Between Europe and United States
The Interest Group Postmodernism welcomes contributions on the topic of modes of exchange between Europe and the United States in the context of mutual influences during the postmodern era.
A distinctive feature of postmodernism is the presence of a wide range of definitions that characterised the very nature of the architecture discipline, from the more autonomist to the more contextualist. There have been many ways to receive, develop and disseminate this radical confrontation between Europe and America in the institutional disciplinary discourse: not only through conferences, exhibitions with their catalogues, symposia and public debates, as well as articles and books, but also through media and academia which, like seismographs, have all been places of such intense research, production, reception, sharing, revision, and militant critique, as to constitute the new, true and persistent state of the discipline itself. If the organisation of conferences and exhibitions or the publication of books and articles has already been largely and deeply investigated, the modes of exchange between Europe and United States expressed through the language of the media still offers room for further investigations. Moreover, new academic subjects, in turn, have contributed to the diffusion of media languages, influencing other contiguous critical worlds, such as art or literary criticism.
Representing Density: People, Buildings, and Media
This year, the Urban Representations Interest Group plans a two-part workshop: a more formal part of ten- minute presentations on the topic of “Representing Density” in the morning; and a conversational part to share work in progress and thoughts on current issues in the realm of urban representations in the afternoon.
Urban and architectural representations can be understood as narrators of “density” by literally depicting tight, overpopulated quarters, busy street life, or mapping packed grids of streets and squares. Some images foment fears of the rapid spread of disease, of unhygienic housing conditions, or of disasters such as earthquake, flood, or fire whether imminent, current, or past. Others invite us to cheer along with crowds gathered for concerts, processions, sporting events or demonstrations, or symbolize modernity, luxury and progress, emphasizing mass activity and movement (airports, seaside resorts, fairs and carnivals) against the background of both ephemeral and monumental, and seemingly timeless buildings. Density in the city is as much a physical matter as it is a social or human one and it is profoundly shaped by cultural context. Images of urban density are at times decrying, at times jubilant. While in the modern age, crowded cities are often seen as negative and are raised as spectre to promote sparsity as a design solution, the notion of density itself is neutral rather than judgmental.
What kinds of questions can we pose surrounding the representation of density that would expose new directions in research? How have urban representations (drawings, paintings, engravings, prints, photographs, video, and film) operated to mediate experiences of density? How do they respond to urban space or influence its design? How do they express attitudes of various stake-holders: citizens, visitors, politicians, designers, planners, real estate developers? What techniques and perspectives have been used and what has been the significance of various media in representing density? How do such representations reflect the differing definitions of density in diverse cultures and historical periods?
Women’s Display: Female Architects and Designers Planning Exhibitions
The workshop intends to examine the conceptual work, as well as the design and plans of women in the production of exhibitions on various scales. The examined examples will range from the master plans of the exhibition area to the architecture of the exhibition buildings and the scenography of the display.
The topicality of women’s exhibition design offers many different perspectives to approach the issue, combining architecture with scenographic display of internal and external space, which requests a comprehensive and creative disciplinary analysis mode. The focus on exhibitions dedicated to women’s work, as well as on women-made exhibitions on housing, interior design, crafts and industrial products, handicrafts etc. – matters traditionally considered to be “feminine” – will give the opportunity to explore new aspects of the employment of materials, such as fabric or paper, or to reflect about the construction of a gendered iconography between ideology and commerce, or to verify the connection between the public display of an exhibition and the private one of a domestic interior. Another topic explores how exhibition designs were intended to support performative acts (from planned events to spontaneous informal activities) as a means of inscribing meaning or producing a particular space. Displaying feminine and sometimes feminist concerns thus made the exhibition a real laboratory for diverse theoretical approaches to architecture inside the “protected” and simultaneously highly visible environment of the exhibition. The workshop will address established historiographical and methodological issues as the concept of authorship, biographical narratives, and so on. We welcome all contributions enlarging and reframing the topic, as well as expanding our expertise.
Min Kyung Lee, Bryn Mawr College
Ines Tolic, Università di Bologna
Catalina Mejía Moreno, The University of Sheffield
Jason Nguyen, University of Toronto
Why We Need Eastern Europe (again)
Russian invasion to Ukraine has prompted many researchers of Eastern Europe to review and rethink the grounds of their work and views on the power dynamics in the region. It has returned our focus on categories like dominant and subaltern nationalism, forced us to acknowledge the ever present role of Russian imperialism in addition to the Western one, to consider differently the decolonial and postcolonial thinking, in a time when colonialism seems to strike back. Also, it encouraged many of us to ask what researchers could do to represent the histories of the region in a more nuanced and just way. Discussions of the war in international media, where many established Western voices have explained the attack to be a result of previous NATO enlargements – thus robbing Eastern-European countries of their agency in this process –, have equally pointed to a need for a stronger, more clearly and coherently articulated Eastern-European voice in high-profile intellectual discussions.
This returned actuality of the region is paradoxical in many ways. Only some years ago the Eastern-European interest group questioned the need for its existence altogether. In the 6th EAHN International Conference, held in Tallinn, a round-table entitled “Who (Still) Needs Eastern Europe?” debated on what could be seen as a historiographic turn in the discourses on/ and from Eastern Europe. The categories inherited from area studies spoke the language of the Cold War period whereas the researchers from the region seemed to think and act more and more globally. Decolonisation on the other hand was in international scholarly context related to the relationship between the West and the Global South and its uses in Eastern European and Soviet / Russian context were scarce. The war has changed that: historians and scholars of Eastern Europe call for a post-colonial lens to study Russia, Ukraine and other countries from the region; political scientists and economic historians speak of an end to the previous models of globalisation and free trade devoid of political interests. Moreover, on the backdrop of revived tensions reminding one of the Cold War and of new geopolitical tectonic movements, ideology appears once more an essential construct to take in account.
In the light of these discussion, we would like to ask participants to reflect on their own work and its changing circumstances: how the war in Ukraine has affected their research on the intellectual and more practical level, what kind of new questions it has prompted and even the self-critique provoked? We could ask ourselves, among other questions, to what extent this war makes relevant in a different manner Giorgio Agamben’s way of interpreting the state of exception (as becoming a normative act) and Achille Mbembe’s brutalism, shedding a new light on the present actors and forces.
The round-table will be articulated around two sequences – 10 minute interventions by participants, followed by a debate. We invite colleagues working on / in Eastern Europe and its context to submit their proposals, maximum 300 words, before May 22.