Call for Papers: Crossing boundaries: Rethinking European architecture beyond Europe
13-17 April 2014 Palermo
The International network “European Architecture beyond Europe: : Sharing Research and Knowledge on Dissemination Processes, Historical Data and Material Legacy (19th-20th centuries)”, chaired by Mercedes Volait and Johan Lagae, and supported by EC funding through the COST Action IS0904, is opening calls for papers for its final Conference to take place on 13-17 April 2014 at Palermo (Italy).
The conference will have the 6 following sessions:
“Transnational studies and cultural transfers” (chaired by Kathleen James-Chakraborty).
“Methods and methodologies: Writing the histories of European imperial/colonial architecture” (chaired by Alex Bremner and JoAnne Mancini).
“Looking eastward, building identities. The architecture of European diplomacy beyond the Mediterranean in the age of Empire” (chaired by Paolo Girardelli and Mercedes Volait).
“Tropical architecture” (chaired by Ola Uduku and Iain Jackson).
“Architectures of exile: Visions and re-visions of the global modern in the age of the refugee” (chaired by Regina Göckede and Rachel Lee).
“Architecture as development aid: Modernization, technical assistance and the design of institutions” (chaired by Tom Avermaete and Kim de Raedt).
The deadline for proposing a paper (300-word abstract) is 1 December 2013. Submissions to the chairs of the sessions should be accompanied by a short biographical note (max. 150 words). Acceptance decisions will be communicated by mid-December. Please note that invited speakers are expected to submit their complete paper by 15 March, 2014, to be circulated among the conference’s participants. Speakers based in countries participating in the Action (refer to the website http://www.architecturebeyond.eu for the complete list) will be able to claim reimbursement of their expenses. A few grants will be available for speakers based in other countries. For further information, please contact the sessions’ chairs or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transnational studies and cultural transfers
Chaired by Kathleen James-Chakraborty (University College Dublin)
European architects have worked beyond Europe since the time of the Crusades. Many architectural historians have documented these practices. In recent years particular attention has been paid to architects who emigrated to escape authoritarian regimes and who are widely credited with having brought modernism with them. Most of this literature, however, floats independently of social science scholarship on transnationalism, and much of it focuses on the movement of forms and theories, rather than on how people structure their own identity in relationship to their experiences of other places and cultures. Moreover, relatively little of this writing engages the role of the client, although the role of local building cultures is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. And finally, very little of it is comparative. What is the difference between Genoese settlements on the Black Sea, for instance, and Portuguese ones on the African coast?
This session seeks papers that rectify this situation. Particularly welcome are contributions that consider current anthropological investigations of transnationalism and theories of cultural transfer and their applicability to architectural history. What can architectural historians learn from methodologies developed largely to analyze more portable forms of artifacts, not to mention ideas? Also desired are papers that seek to conceptualize the ways in which transnational architectural practice has changed across time. What, for instance, distinguishes the German architects that came to the United States following 1933 from those who emigrated after 1848? Papers might also examine the problem of determining what role biographical experience plays in the designs of any architect. This is particularly important in the case of a profession that is profoundly collaborative, engaging clients, builders, and users as well as designers. Other questions that might be addressed include what motivates clients to hire architects from other countries and how do these architects operate once they have such commissions. Are they employed because of technical or stylistic expertise gained abroad, or are other factors at work? What types of information and ideas travel with them, and under what circumstances are what local conditions taken into account?
Kathleen James-Chakraborty kathleen.JamesChakraborty@ucd.ie
Methods and methodologies: Writing the histories of European imperial/colonial architecture
Chaired by Alex Bremner (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) and JoAnne Mancini (National University of Ireland Maynooth)
This session seeks to explore and debate the ways in which we write (and have written) the history of ‘European architecture abroad’, particularly in the context of European imperial expansion. For some thirty years now the study of European imperial and colonial architecture has largely been refracted through the theoretical lens of post-structuralism—mainly appropriated from philosophy, literary and cultural studies—in the form of the ‘Orientalist’ critique of Edward Said and other forms of Foucauldian discourse analysis, nominally referred to as ‘post-colonial theory’. As powerful and seductive as these modes of analysis may be, and as useful in their opening new ways of seeing and interpreting forms of cultural production such as architecture, they have become formulaic, predictable, and even orthodox. They have also received trenchant and sustained criticism from the wider scholarly community in historical studies (especially outside art and architecture circles) for their inherent limitations.
This leaves us with the question of where the study of European imperial and colonial architecture might turn next. On the whole, other scholarly and cognate traditions, such as early modern and modern European history, have developed more diverse and wide-ranging approaches to the study of empire and culture, adapting insights from geography, environmental studies, anthropology, and other disciplines; and have devoted significant attention to integral concepts such as networks and agency. Although not necessarily opposed to discourse analysis, these scholarly frameworks—including regional approaches (‘Atlantic’, ‘Pacific’, ‘Indian Ocean’, and ‘World/Global’ histories), network theory, and ‘connected’ histories—provide new and very different insights than those provided by post-colonial theory. However, just as architectural historians have not fully engaged with scholars in these fields, early modern historians have also been somewhat reluctant to engage fully with architecture and the built environment as agents and repositories of social practice and social change.
Can, indeed should, architectural history engage more with these alternative scholarly traditions and modes of analysis? What can we learn from them, and how might we apply them? How might architectural historians interact more productively with colleagues in history and historical social science disciplines to encourage more architecturally-informed analysis in those fields? Or, ought post-colonial theory remain the key concept and frame of reference that underpins our study of the colonial built environment? This session welcomes papers that address any aspects of these key questions, either by dealing specifically with methodological approaches that enhance, progress, and/or transform our understanding of European imperial and colonial architecture, or by exploring case studies that allow for these methodological concerns to be elaborated in specific contexts. Put simply: where are we, where are we going, and where do we want to be as scholars of the colonial built environment.
Looking eastward, building identities: The architecture of European diplomacy beyond the Mediterranean in the age of Empire
Chaired by Paolo Girardelli (Boğaziçi University) and Mercedes Volait (CNRS/INHA)
Embassies are, by definition, representative institutions, but the share of their architectural shelters in this signifying function is a complex and still understudied issue. By transferring a fragment of the nation beyond its frontiers, embassies, consulates and other officially “foreign” architectures engage in a complex cultural dynamic of encounter, estrangement or integration. Symbolic, identitarian and political meanings may be variously inscribed in their architectural fabric; balances in social topography may be altered – all the more when
such buildings were constructed or adapted by European powers in countries with a remarkable degree of geographical/cultural distance. The stylistic heterogeneity resulting from the interactions and constraints inherent to diplomacy is all the more bewildering in such cases.
This session is meant to develop a critical and comparative reflection on a rather neglected aspect of architectural and urban history that informs the global spread of European forms and aesthetics through an unusual lens. It proposes to do so by concentrating on the geography that lies East of the Mediterranean and on places and structures located outside the direct colonial confrontation. We are interested in contributions looking at buildings related not only to the main Western European players, but indeed to Eastern and Central European agency. Empirical as well as conceptual and theoretical research on European diplomatic structures in the Ottoman, Persian and non-colonial Asian geography, as well as in peripheral cities of the Russian empire, can be presented and discussed in this session.
We invite papers assessing the ways in which European diplomacy, international relations, and changing power balances shaped important parts of the built environment outside Europe, in a space/time framework characterized by expanding European penetration eastward and corresponding roughly to the long 19th century and beyond. We are particularly interested in contributions that address the architectural embodiment of encounters and representational strategies within innovative frameworks, exploring new ground beyond the conventional critique of Orientalism. Preeminence will be given to proposals reflecting on the appropriate methods and sources for this kind of trans-national investigation, and addressing the history of diplomatic buildings as a constant reworking of images, styles, spaces and political messages, affecting each other in unpredictable ways.
Chaired by Ola Uduku (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture) and Iain Jackson (The Liverpool School of Architecture)
‘Tropical Architecture’, used as a term here to define a particular strain of construction that seeks to address the hot, humid, and dry climes found between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, is inextricably connected with the colonial endeavours of Europe. Traditional scholarship has sought to historicise the canon and to look to early encounters between travellers, missionaries, military engineers and local populations. This seems like a sensible mode of enquiry from which to begin. Participants are encouraged to present research papers that have examined how ideas have travelled, been interpreted and eventually built, with particular interest on the indigenous perspective. We are also however seeking papers that take us beyond the archive; thus in addition to examining records of the indigenous contribution to tropical architecture, what of those forced to live in tropical dwellings, or to occupy schools, courts, and other such buildings? How did they modify or enhance the tropical capabilities of the buildings they occupied and what recorded or pictorial evidence do we have that shows what they thought of their surroundings? Finally, and importantly we are interested in the domestic setting; what constituted the ‘everyday’ what were the female, (and possibly youth) perspectives, on life in these new tropical dwellings. Also how was environmental comfort and hygiene, evaluated by local residents, as compared with the plans and expectations of the tropical research establishments in the home countries?
Tropical Architecture is a blunt, but useful term. Can we begin to draw out some revealing tributaries? The architecture of Port Cities and ‘sailor towns’, will inevitably vary to that of the hinterland, hill station, administrative centre or desert. What about the island, archipelago, peninsula, and mainland as specific places of exchange, encounter, settlement and isolation- can we begin in a more concerted manner to consider the architecture of these territories and conditions whilst thinking about the tropical? The architecture of trade, railways, stations, warehouses, dock walls and shipping offices all need further investigation.
Tropical architecture ‘at the edges’ is also pertinent; beyond the cosmic boundaries imposed by Cancer and Capricorn, what happens at the edges of the tropical – the subtropics and other such regions that form the imagined boundary. Is the architecture of these almost-tropical places of note, and how does it borrow or contribute to the broader debates. Other boundaries seem to exist at The Americas and Caribbean; they have not featured to the same extent as other geographic areas in recent scholarship. Is there a reason for this? Is the architecture of Rudolph and Polevizky in Florida, or Ossipoff in Hawai’i, or Kurchan and Hardoy in Buenos Aires not the right type of tropical architecture, or is there simply less to say about these, often glamorous, projects or places?
Biography is a contested historiographical method, but can we look more closely at the indigenous architects who have contributed to this canon often working alongside European architects, or should we accept that they should retain their anonymity in light of our concerns about biographical narratives? Equally should we continue to explore the life stories of Europeans who worked in the tropics? Should we be placing them more carefully within a broader narrative? Or indeed when does biography become hagiography – to what purpose and for what audience is it really meant.
Colonies within colonies, or neighbouring territories may offer new insights. For example, was the French Indian colony of Pondicherry culturally isolated from its surroundings, or can were discern ‘knowledge transfers’ and modes of exchange? How did the French differ in their approach to tropical design to the British, or Portuguese in Goa, for example? Taking this premise to its other extreme, what characterises early Indian labour settlements in Durban, or Chinese settlement in areas like San Francisco on America’s Western Seaboard, or West Indian/returnee African settlements in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries on the West African coast.
Architectures of exile: Visions and re-Visions of the global modern in the age of the refugee
Chaired by Regina Göckede (BTU Cottbus) and Rachel Lee (TU Berlin)
The emergence of what is today known as international architecture is to a large extent related to the global impact of exiled European architects, who, scattered throughout the world, contributed decisively to its theoretical debates, institutional formations and built manifestations from the early 1920s onwards.
The historiography of exiled modern architecture has long focused on cases of purportedly successful and unidirectional cultural transfer as represented in the master narratives of prominent US immigrants such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. The dominant focus on individual biographies and histories of linear stylistic innovations has all too often overlooked the importance of discrepant discursive contexts (material and non-material alike), marginal geographical destinations, the effects of critical self-reflection, as well as the numerous tragedies of loss, disruption and failure under the conditions of forced dislocation. In the last two decades, there have been, however, several important studies that have contributed to a much more complex understanding and significantly extended knowledge (temporal as well as geographical) of the fragmented dynamics of architects’ and urban planners’ exilic dislocations (including re-migrations and transmigrations) and modern architecture and planning. In addition, new approaches from the fields of post-colonial and cultural studies have stimulated the emergence of conceptually de-centered and ideologically de-nationalized perspectives.
This session focuses on the intersection of exile and architectural practice as a historical phenomenon in an increasingly globalizing world. It seeks to re-examine both the exilic histories of our architectural present and the concept of exile as an analytical tool for interpretively grasping the so-called globalization of modern architecture.
We invite contributions by historians of architecture and art history as well as by scholars from related fields such as literary studies, anthropology, human geography and political history. Papers can address the many individual lives and works of 19th and 20th century exiled European architects with a view to their role in the transformation of international architecture, trace (discursive) modes of production and reception (including non-European resistance to Western cultural hegemony), test specific (historical) experiences for links with and relevance to current, or possibly earlier, exilic modes of planning and building, or investigate the research field’s historiographical overlaps and collusions with related interpretive paradigms like diasporic, (trans-)migrant, (post-)colonial, transnational, cosmopolitan, global, or international architecture. We are particularly interested in comparative perspectives and theoretical-methodological approaches that consider temporal/geographical variants, discrepant political-ideological conditions, and institutional and personal networks. We also invite papers that explore exilic careers of non-European architects within Europe or analyse the architecture produced, commissioned or inhabited by exiles who were not architects.
Architecture as development aid. Actors, networks and mechanisms in the design of institutional buildings in the postcolonial global South.
Chaired by Kim De Raedt (University of Ghent’s Faculty of Engineering & Architecture) & Tom Avermaete (Delft University of Technology)
This session deals with the theoretical and practical architecture expertise which emerged through development aid in the ‘global South’ after decolonisation. By looking specifically at development aid organisations, the aim is to unravel mechanisms of architecture and knowledge production specific to the postcolonial context, characterized by shifting political and economic conditions as a result of the Cold War. Through a particular focus on the design of institutional buildings (schools, universities, hospitals, etcetera), the session seeks to produce a mapping of postcolonial networks of expert(ise)s which substituted former métropole-colony relations.
Questions that could be addressed by the papers are: How did a specific type of ‘global expert’ arise through development aid? What was the role and position of such architect-experts within the highly institutionalized aid bodies they worked for, and to what extent could they operate autonomously within those organisations? What kind of architectural discourse was implicitly or explicitly constructed by development aid bodies? How did this lead to a particular approach to the design of institutional buildings? What was the role of African players in the production of those buildings?
Ultimately the session seeks to understand the specificity of the architecture production realized through development aid, and recognize the particularity of the role of the ‘architect-expert’ within aid organisations. This will allow identifying the continuities and shifts in discourse, mechanisms and architectural language with respect to the production of institutional buildings in the late colonial period, while also tentatively putting the increasing globalisation of the architecture practice today into a historical perspective.