Radical Methods, New Interlocutors: Strategies for Equitable Histories
Chair: Arijit Sen

How does your commitment to diversity and inclusion reveal itself in the work you do? This session will begin the arduous task of accounting for best practices and innovative experiments with methods of doing architectural history. Such an epistemological critique and reckoning is at the core of any meaningful and long-lasting transformation in the way we reproduce historical knowledge of the built environment. “Who built these buildings and whose cultural values are imprinted in material worlds?” we ask. At each instance we return to origin-stories of builders, almost always white and male.

  • Materialist studies of architecture offers a false sense of stability and reality, but many marginalized people experience their world through mobility rather than stability, temporarily occupying space rather than owning properties.
  • We frequent archives that hold texts, drawings, and artifacts from professional collections. Yet embodied forms of knowing —histories transmitted orally or environmental memories—are not found in traditional archives.
  • We write for marginalized people, but why don’t we chronicle histories with them instead?

In recent years, such discussions around this epistemological blindness have reappeared in conversations around the lack of representation of minority histories in our canon. Many stalwarts have challenged us to unlearn our epistemological traditions: e.g. Saidiya Hartman, Katherine McKittrick, Diana Taylor, Swati Chattopadhyay, Ariella Azoulay and Fred Moten. It is time to account for ways we are dismantling the master narrative, questioning core assumptions, and resisting colonial/settler centric perspectives. It is time to discern how everyday resistances against injustice produces what Samuel Truett calls fugitive landscapes.

  • Tell us how and why your work, ways of collecting data, modes of interpretation, and narrative strategies push new horizons and recover the stories of those whose histories are obliterated/ignored in our canon.
  • Tell us how your work dismantles the discipline’s long complicity in producing inequitable histories and purposeful erasures.