Crisis, Again

It is safe to say that there is much churning and anxiety over the contents and discontents of architectural history curricula in architecture schools in North America and Europe. The events of the last couple of years, from Black Lives Matter to the refugee crisis, have brought to university classrooms a generation of students who are engaged more passionately with questions of decolonizing the curriculum, systemic racism and inequality as well as the question of national borders and subaltern communities. This change is also due to the fact that American and European architecture schools have an increasingly international student body. It is about time a sense of urgency is felt. This specter of change has of course been on the horizon for a while, most recently through the form of a ‘global’ architectural history — a Pandora’s box of unfamiliar artefacts and geographies, available to be taught in large undergraduate and graduate survey courses. These courses might be required for students, but there seem to be fewer architectural historians who are excited to teach them and to add new material. After all, how does one cover, say, the period from ‘pre-history’ to the contemporary within a few short months without essentializing, skewering and skipping large parts of the globe? If narrative, like time, sticks to history, and the survey class, ‘like soil to a gardener’s spade’ (Braudel 2009: 197), then what narrative arcs does one offer to hold interest? Whether in physical or online classrooms, the need to avoid a disjointed history course that does not paper over the incommensurabilities between time periods, geographies and building cultures looms large.

These anxieties have been emerging publicly. One recent conference declared that changes in architectural curricula have resulted in teaching ‘history without theory’ (Trubiano, Leatherbarrow and Laurence 2019). Another historian reflected a dominant anxiety when he lamented ‘that once the Western architectural canon has been thrown overboard…nobody seems to know what else should replace it’ (Carpo 2018). It is difficult to imagine this feeling of loss as separate from the fear over the loss of an epistemology of coherence and its resulting authority in architecture. Or to see it as anything other than an anguish over the ‘overpopulation’ of architectural history with geographies and artefacts that do not fit cleanly within the narrative coherence of the Mediterranean basin. One attempt to sidestep these problems has been to foreground theory as the critical component ‘for the maintenance of the discipline of architecture as a synthetic manifestation connecting history, criticism, and practice’ (Axel, Bedford and Hirsch 2019). However, it still does not deflect from the fact that the way history is required to be taught tends to make it seem like a narratively settled, constituent category of architecture (to an increasingly diverse, outspoken and politically active generation). Nor is the subjectivity of architectural historians outside this problematic. In an economic scenario of dwindling tenure track positions confined to ‘design plus history-theory’ jobs, the category of architectural historian is itself increasingly unstable, and history itself seems likely to be exchanged for an easily digestible design theory. But what remains when the solidity of national histories, which once defined the discipline, is removed? Is the ‘global’ of global history merely the global of globalization? Is it, to borrow a turn of phrase from postcolonial theory, merely more ‘diversity without difference’?

This position paper cannot of course settle any of these debates. Rather, it attempts to reflect on them through a dive into an earlier, but certainly not ‘original’, moment of this seemingly metonymic series of crises in architectural history. I speak of a moment when the discipline of architectural history (and indeed theory) was just being forged and the anxieties resurfacing today were arguably in the making: the well-known AIA-ACSA Teacher seminar held in 1964 in Cranbrook, Michigan.1 This was a conference organized at a pivotal moment when doctoral programs in architectural history and theory were emerging with accompanying mid-century notions of disciplines with clear boundaries, clear objects of study and a clear hierarchy of experts. The questions being asked were fundamental: What is architectural history? What are its contents? How should it be taught? Who is an architectural historian?2 The nature of the 1964 seminar, a room full of white men in rural Michigan discussing the definition, implications and relevance of teaching ‘a history of architecture’ only a few weeks before the Civil Rights Act was signed, seems irrelevant today. However, a closer look beneath the masculine bravado of the conference reveals many of the same issues that persist today: questions of ‘diversity’ of content, of ‘relevance’ to students in professional architecture programs and a tendency to leave unquestioned the Renaissance tradition of draughtsmanship known as disegno, one of the prime examples of familiar narrative coherences offered by the Mediterranean basin. This paper journeys through these issues in the hope of bringing our own into sharper focus and proposes that the work of architectural history might be akin to what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak termed as a project of planetarity, involving both an undoing of the social order of architectural history and the embrace of new and unfamiliar narrative arcs.

The 1964 Conference

The discussions of the 1964 conference were similar to discussions that continue today: the relationship between history and theory, design studio and history coursework, the content of the history survey courses and so on. Peter Collins, the British architectural historian teaching at McGill University, insisted in his talk at the conference that the field of architectural history must run from the Greeks to Le Corbusier without the distractions of unknowable non-Western architectural cultures and such ‘recondite examples as Asiatic Rock Cut Tombs, carvings which I do not consider to be architecture at all’ (Collins 1965: 9). Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, the only woman among the speakers, and a unique figure among architectural historians, offered a spirited opposition to Collins during the discussion, expressing her ‘horror … that you [Collins] considered architecture to start with Greece’. She also claimed that ‘there is no such thing as a historical past in architecture’ since architecture was ‘a continuous concept’ (Whiffen 1964: 9) (Fig. 1). She framed this in terms of disciplinary autonomy: the ‘designed concept’ was ‘purely architectural because it responded in purely architectural terms to the environment’ (Moholy-Nagy 1965: 41; italics in original). For her, proper architectural history would be based on six eternal principles of architecture, rather than styles, ending, as Donlyn Lyndon remarked, ‘ominously in space-form continuity’ (Lyndon 1964: 26). If Moholy-Nagy, who in fact taught pioneering history seminars at the Pratt Institute, dismissed both theory and the existence of a historical past (Heynen 2019),3 then Serge Chermayeff, teaching at Yale, went even further. He opened his talk by expressing his dislike for architectural history and what historians did, stating bluntly, ‘I don’t like much what you do, I don’t like very much how you do it, and I don’t believe what you are doing serves any good’ (Chermayeff 1965: 23). It is not difficult to conjure modern versions of Chermayeff, professors who are not too impressed with a history that has no direct bearing in the design studio.

Figure 1
Figure 1

Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, Germany, 1930s. © Moholy-Nagy Foundation.

Reyner Banham, with characteristic wit, identified the central issue of architectural research to be the twin problems of symbolism and utility. He used his entire address to dismiss the statement expressed by the art historian Susanne Langer, that utility was the ‘affliction’ of architecture. ‘Had Suzanne Langer been an architect’, Banham claimed, ‘she would have said that it was symbolic expression … that was the affliction’ (Banham 1965: 105). For Banham, the field of architectural history and theory, unlike the art history of Langer, was shaped by the pragmatics of the brief and the rationality of technology, a technology that unfortunately (according to him) also happened to be symbolic. It is impossible not to notice that in Banham’s discussion, the terms architecture, science, rationality, technology, utility and the ‘West’ seem to all have been interchangeable.4 Utility, Banham claimed, is ‘why I involve myself with architecture, rather than any of the other aspects of the creative arts, which as an art historian I might have been expected to go into’ (1965: 91). In fact, many of the speakers with advanced research degrees — Collins, Stanford Anderson, Stephen W. Jacobs and Banham — were graduates of art history departments. What then was architectural history? How was it distinct from art history? What were its methods? What was architectural about architectural history and architectural historians?

Jacobs, from Cornell, addressed these questions explicitly, especially that of the education of the architectural historian, unlike other speakers. Bruno Zevi, for example, assumed that the central problem was ‘how being excellent historians we could contribute to the building of good schools of architecture’ (1965: 16). In Jacobs’ opinion, architectural historians benefited from being professionally educated in architecture (like him), but ‘professional education without art historical education’ was not enough to be an architectural historian. One needed to be well versed in the new methods made by the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, such as the tools of ‘linguists, archaeologists, psychologists, medical technicians, sociologists and crime-busters’. Thus, ‘the art or architectural historian must be not only a form analyst and connoisseur (as the American tradition established in the Ivy League universities insisted) but also a cultural historian and an iconographer’ (Jacobs 1965: 60–61). Such ‘architectural historians’ could then help architecture students to ‘be liberally educated and broadly informed’, ‘providing adequate philosophic and literary experience’ and encourageing ‘them to read and write not only for their salvation but that of the profession’, because these students were after all to ‘commit architecture’ (Jacobs 1965: 52). But a merely well-educated art historian with no formal education in architecture would not succeed in architectural schools because ‘he’ would be a frustrated and unhappy one. Jacobs’ reasoning is sufficiently candid to be quoted in full:

He expects systematic work and careful digestion of facts and forms from his students. This individual is unhappy in the professional school. He finds the extraordinary ‘boom or bust’ pattern of architectural education intolerable. He cannot accept or adjust to the fact that his students perform and perhaps attend irregularly, attempting to catch up in the intervals between design crises. He finds the isolation from his group and their paraphernalia unbearable. He discovers that the other members of the professional staff are terribly busy and seldom around to create a suitable sense of an ongoing academic enterprise. (Jacobs 1965: 61)

Jacobs was not alone in this observation. In another conference with a similar theme in 1967, Moholy-Nagy opined,

An inquiry into a methodology of teaching architectural history to students of architecture boils down to three decisive points: why to teach a discipline which is generally rejected by practitioners; whom to select for such an unpopular task; and how to implement the ordeal of four credit units of glazed eyes, chronic absenteeism, and interfaculty condescension. (Moholy-Nagy 1967: 178)

In a retrospective article recalling the birth of architectural history and theory programs, Anderson accepted the validity of Moholy-Nagy’s critique from 1967, making some exceptions:

Nonetheless, there are notable historians who performed well within such circumstances. James Ackerman did not see many glazed eyes as he taught architecture students at Berkeley in the late 1950s. By reputation, this must have been true for Vincent Scully at Yale (and Ackerman again, after his appointment at Harvard). The success of these teachers in reaching architectural students does not, however, imply shared programs. (Anderson 1999: 284)

While it might be obvious, it is necessary to note that what is being referred to as the ability to prevent ‘glazed eyes’ is not simply the ability to be ‘interesting’ but the ability to epistemologically produce a coherent narrative arc that strings together artefacts, geographies and temporalities that made ‘sense’ to modern architects being trained in design.

Constructing Coherence: Architectural Historians, Disegno and the Mediterranean Basin

The attendees of the 1964 teachers seminar disagreed fiercely about the nature of architectural history and its content. However, all the speakers were in some way attempting to produce a disciplinary coherence for architectural history, between past and present, and to outline a clear geography of history — Moholy-Nagy had her ‘eternal principles’, Banham his utility and technology, and Collins his focus on the ‘Western’ canon.5 But despite all these differences, we can see two themes from the seminar that would go on to gain disciplinary traction.

The first was Jacobs’ solution to preventing ‘glazed eyes’ by creating ‘the kind of hybrid historian-architect who can and will survive and thrive in the professional school milieu’ (Jacobs 1965: 62). This individual would have the professional education of an architect and thus could go on to provide the ‘disciplinary’ benefits and methods of history to architecture. Such a hybrid professional — a historian-architect (or architect-historian?) — required a graduate program. A pioneer in the field of architectural history and theory, Jacobs thus established a blueprint for master’s and doctoral programs at Cornell that would produce ‘qualified, creative, and productive architectural historians able to make a contribution of high scholarly caliber to the local educational scene’, by which he essentially meant professional schools of architecture (Jacobs 1965: 62). The pursuit of graduate education in architectural history was parallel to but distinct from architecture’s attempt to validate its position within the research university. That attempt had begun earlier, such as in the architectural ‘research’ program at Berkeley.6 By the 1970s, the first graduates of architectural history-theory programs emerged, and by the mid to late 1980s, a cycle of production (architectural historians teaching architectural historians in architecture schools) had largely come into being (Anderson 1999: 285–288).

The second was an implicit agreement among historians at the conference about what architecture students did — they were engaged in ‘design’ as opposed to using words. In fact, Zevi’s ‘historical-critical method’ for teaching architecture primarily involved teaching history of architecture through techniques of representation that brought historical artefacts into conversation with design processes.7 As he put it, ‘We may do the most fascinating lectures, we can be full of sex appeal’, but ‘the consequence of speaking on the drawing paper is very, very little’ (Whiffen 1964: 2). In other words, one important way the history of architecture gained coherence was through representational practices like drawing, model making and abstraction; it could become ‘useful’ for architectural design and practice. While Manfredo Tafuri’s critique of ‘operative criticism’ followed the 1964 conference (Heynen 2019: 182; Harwood 2013: 106–107),8 the understanding of architecture (and aesthetic and representational preferences in the design studio) as disegno, — a self-evident, objective and culturally neutral property of architecture, now inflected by digital means — remains symptomatic of a narrow cultural definition of architecture in the academy.

Banham saw through this very clearly (Fig. 2). In ‘A Black Box: The Secret Profession of Architecture’, he proclaims,

Let us then re-divorce what should never have been joined together in this opportunistic marriage-of-convenience. Throw out all the Zulu kraals, grain-elevators, hogans, lunar excursion modules, cruck-houses, Farman biplanes and so forth, and look again at ‘this thing called architecture’ in its own right. (1996: 294)

It was important to throw it all out, because, as Banham reasons, including everything built into the history of architecture

is to try to cram the world’s wonderful variety of building arts into the procrustean mould of a set of rules of thumb derived from, and entirely proper to, the building arts of the Mediterranean basin alone, and whose master-discipline, design, is simply disegno, a style of draughtsmanship once practised only in central Italy. (1996: 297)

Such a discipline, he argues, puts us ‘more securely placed to study the mysteries of our own building art, beginning with the persistence of drawing … as a kind of meta-pattern that subsumes all other patterns and shelters them from rational scrutiny’ (1996: 298). In short, the only way to make sense of architecture, of both its practice in the modern world as well as its education (an education Jacobs’ new historian needed to have), and within which architectural history was understood to be an integral part, was to understand it as a direct historical descendant of the Mediterranean tradition. Collins might have been nodding his head in agreement.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Reyner Banham. © Courtesy of the Public Information Office, UC Santa Cruz. UCHDA.

We could meet Banham’s ‘Mediterraneanism’ with evidence of postcolonial scholarship that has made familiar the (still incomplete) critique of the poverty of Eurocentric, modernist versions of architectural history. We could also respond with an as yet underdeveloped critique of the disegno tradition that far too conveniently links everything from the Renaissance to digital fabrication and makes invisible the processes of creative labor in architectural production in most of the world. However, such critiques do not address what I think is a deeper condition — Mediterraneanism as a particular genre of narrative coherence. The sheer repetition of the figure of the Mediterranean in survey courses makes this obvious: right from the telling of the ‘first cities’ of the Fertile Crescent to Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architecture, from the spread of Christianity and Islam to the rise of Venetian mercantilism, all of which is narrated by a focus on the Mediterranean ‘region’ and, as convenient, the expansion farther and farther beyond that region. This latter expansion includes the more familiar and connected waters of disegno, ‘the mapping impulse’ (Alpers 1984) and other cartographic techniques simultaneous with European colonization of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, followed by the all too familiar narrative of industrial modernity. This narrative structure leads me to suspect that the anxiety over what will replace the ‘Western canon’ is really a crisis of an epistemology of coherence, a practical problem of glazed eyes in required history survey courses — a staple for which architectural historians are hired in ‘design’ schools.

Beyond the ‘Global’: Towards Open Plan Fieldwork

In the 1964 conference, Anderson pushed back against the technological futurism of Banham with the work of Karl Popper, to which he was introduced by the anarchist historian of science, Paul Feyerabend. In Against Method, Feyerabend insisted that it is nearly impossible to discover and overcome the presuppositions of a system through the very logic that holds it up. According to Feyerabend a ‘dream-world’, that is an entirely external and alternate standard of criticism, is necessary in order to discover and re-order any system of knowledge (Feyerabend 1993: 22; italics in original). If we are to heed Feyerabend’s advice, we will need to question the ‘insides’ of the discipline – which include both its epistemological standards and contents as well as the vastly unequal disciplinary geography of academic power that produces it. Believing those that constitute the ‘inside’ of the field as it exists today to bring about a transformation might be akin to trusting the cognitive diversity of the small homogenous group gathered in rural Michigan in 1964 to effect substantive change today. How then do we proceed?

If we are not too hasty to close off other disciplines under the understandable weariness of ‘interdisciplinarity’, emerging scholarship is indicative of some concrete directions by which to escape architectural history’s predicaments and obsessions. Whether it is about exploring alternate forms of association and subjectivity in contemporary djinn worshippers in Delhi’s medieval tombs (Taneja 2015) or the fluctuating, hybrid, sensorial spaces of the early modern Caribbean sea world created by active shamanic knowledge making (Gómez 2017) or the diverse, cosmopolitan traditions of Islamicate cultures in the liminal, littoral worlds of the Indian Ocean (Prange 2018), it is difficult to pin down any fidelity of much of this new work to one particular discipline, method, political border or even, sometimes, historical era. All of this new work gestures to alternate configurations in which fields of knowledge historically existed — and sometimes still exist. However, such work is not the research and development work of a typical architectural avant-garde. It is closer to what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak calls the sustained project of ‘planetarity’, which she defines as ‘Planet + Alterity’ (2012: 338). As opposed to the ‘global’ of globalization — a project of cognitive homogenization, hierarchy and control — the project of planetarity is one that maintains constant alterity even while in the pursuit of a future ‘field’.9 It does this by ensuring a proliferation of difference — by embracing ‘an inexhaustible taxonomy … including but not identical with the whole range of human universals: aboriginal animism as well as the spectral white mythology of a post-rational science’ (Spivak 2012: 338). What replaces the canonical ‘baggage’ of architectural history may not be a new fixed set of monuments or artefacts but the necessary process and principles behind the need for such an inexhaustible taxonomy.

Spivak must be read on her own terms, but Adorno’s negative dialectics may be useful when we attempt to produce concepts to stabilize the surplus of historical objects, peoples and cultures that such an inexhaustible taxonomy brings. Adorno situated his negative dialectic against the mistake of framing the conceptual as unified thought. In other words, the mistake of enlightenment reason was that it did not grasp ‘that objects do not go into their concepts without leaving a remainder’ (Adorno 1973: 5). It tried to subsume the non-identical object within the identity of the concept. The promise of his negative dialectic was precisely this ‘disenchantment with the Concept’ of keeping constantly alive ‘the consistent sense of non-identity’ (1973: 5). For our purposes, history carries the baggage of what Adorno deemed as identitarian conceptual thought. The work of architectural history, and especially the principle by which surveys are organized, might then be to keep active this non-identity ‘to break up the ordered surfaces and plains [of thought, geography and narrative] with which we are accustomed’ (Foucault 2002: xvi) — a continuous Othering of ourselves and the disciplinary Self of architecture.

This is the production of a very different sort of glazed eyes, one that productively blurs the clarity of our neatly determined categories of identity and definitive maps of the ‘globe’. An architectural history survey inspired by planetarity will not only have to make visible the blank spaces that dominate our maps of knowledge and its secular timelines but also to make evident the tenuousness of its own narrative structures and forms. What I speak of here is a way to use the disjointedness of new narrative arcs as a productive way to speak of the incommensurabilities of cultural difference10 and the vast structural gaps built into a colonial structure of historical knowledge that will taunt our classroom teaching. It is time to consider whether architectural history needs to be taught as a series of narratives and counter narratives, both settled coherences and emerging ones, as well as ‘dialectical movement back and forth across space and time’, as James Delbourgo notes in the context of teaching history of science (2019: 378). Could we consider history surveys that emphasize movement and migration as much as ‘cities’ and ‘settlements’ and include alternate modes of habitation and different temporal starting points that allow for the density of local worlds and that can be centered around other oceanic worlds — the Caribbean Sea or the Indian Ocean? How could this produce less coherence than the current staple? If such an approach reduces the time for a course to focus on the great architectural monuments of the Mediterranean basin, then would it be any more harmful than the scant attention paid to the ‘rest’ of the world?

In the pursuit of planetarity, Spivak suggests a method we might do well to consider, something she calls ‘open plan fieldwork’, a ‘new kind of mindset with no institutional backup and no precise description’ (2003: 36). She borrows the term ‘fieldwork’ from the social sciences, especially in anthropology and sociology, to tap into work on site, embedded in actual locations and cultures, but she also expands it beyond simply understanding ‘communities’ in far-flung areas that are then written up in ‘Euro-US academic code’ (2003: 37). Her framework suggests multiple interpretations. One is that of informal, personal, non-institutional encounters that start to produce collectivities in which the role of the academic is envisaged as being closer to the work of an interpreter — speaking from between two sides, encountering and interpreting alterity with the imagination and provisionality that the humanities encourage. Her attempt, instructive for us in its ambition, is the opening up of a future anteriority (a dream-world, in Feyerabend’s terms), a field yet to come; one that is not beholden to an internal coherence because it understands the grounds on which such coherences are produced and is defined by its desire for embracing multiple configurations, methods and narratives.

There is no doubt that such narratives can only be generated by a radically diverse as well as geographically and cognitively differing, open-ended collective — a future ‘We’. This ‘We’ gestures to different kinds and modes of collective authorship. Some important attempts at this within architectural history textbooks and the geopolitics of the ‘global’ have been discussed recently in this journal (Rujivacharakul 2020; Burns and Brown 2020). But since every ‘global’ is always from ‘somewhere’ and for ‘someone’, how would it look if these ‘global’ histories are narrated and edited not just from a Delhi or a New York but from a Flint, Kikwit, or Kandahar — narratives from ‘worlds fiercely local’ (Amin 2015: xx). That is, how do we further decentralize to make ‘architectural histories’? No doubt this will require us to collaborate and form alliances with scholars and institutions in tertiary centers and small towns while actively sharing control, access and privilege. Needless to say, these collaborations will not be supported/sanctioned by institutions nor will they conform to the forms, modes or ‘standards’ of scholarship that we are used to.

The ‘We’ of planetarity could also include what historical scholarship has become sensitive to: sentient non-humans, more-than-human materiality, the oceanic and so on, which also were physically and cognitively marginalized by colonial settler frameworks across the world. However, most important of all, Spivakian fieldwork involves the messy work of interpreting and translating, with a sense of alterity and imagination, people, artefacts and alternate frames of knowledge into the classroom — a critical site of architectural history — first producing, then facing and working through glazed eyes.


  1. Beginning in 1956, the AIA-ACSA (American Institute of Architects — Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) held seminars on ‘urgent themes related intimately to the teaching and directly to the practice of architecture’; the 1964 one was held at Cranbrook, Michigan (Pickens 1965: v). Most of the papers were published by MIT Press under the title The History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture: Papers from the 1964 AIA-ACSA Teacher Seminar (1965), edited by Marcus Whiffen. [^]
  2. According to John Harwood, Henry A. Millon, who was part of the ‘leadership of the conference’, asked these specific questions: ‘What place should the history of painting and sculpture have in the curriculum? Is the history of architecture the same discipline as the history of art? Is it desirable or necessary that a historian of architecture be an architect? Is contemporary architecture a legitimate subject of historical research? Do historians influence the development of contemporary architecture?’ (Harwood 2013: 126). [^]
  3. Hilde Heynen explores in detail Sibyl Moholy-Nagy’s pedagogical changes in the teaching of history seminars at Pratt (2019: 174–190). One example was through her interest in ‘human settlements’, non-western and non-pedigreed architecture. Heynen also highlights Moholy-Nagy’s contradictory positions, like her rejection of theory (and style) even while being very theoretical in operationalizing it (like Bruno Zevi) for architectural design. [^]
  4. While Banham often makes such assumptions implicitly, an especially telling moment is when he says, ‘Architects are committed (at any rate in the Western nations, and the cultures which derive from the European tradition) to a pragmatic position’ (Banham 1965: 94). [^]
  5. And indeed, the entire conference, or at least ‘leaders’ like Henry Millon and Lawrence Anderson, were invested in this question, according to Harwood. See note 6. [^]
  6. For example, at Berkeley by late 1957/early 1958, an internal memo on research in architecture had been circulated and formalized by the prospect of funding from the National Science Foundation (EDA 1958). For a broader understanding of the ‘architectural research’ agenda at Berkeley and other schools during the mid 20th century, see Avigail Sachs (2018). [^]
  7. Although he was focused on drawing as a method of representation at the conference, Zevi did have a nuanced view of it (along with an interest in photographs and video) in terms of the limitations it imposed. This is evident in his introduction to Architecture as Space and its third chapter, ‘The Representation of Space’ (1957: 45–60). In the latter chapter he dwells at length on Michelangelo’s plan for St. Peter’s through a series of eight analytical diagrams to show the potential (and limitation) of drawings to capture different dimensions of ‘space’. [^]
  8. Manfredo Tafuri (1976) singled out Zevi and Moholy-Nagy for caustic critique and used the 1964 conference to demonstrate the conflicted and contradictory position of the architectural historian-critic. See Hilde Heynen (2019: 182) and John Harwood (2013: 106–107). [^]
  9. Dipesh Chakrabarty (2021) has recently expanded on Spivak’s distinction between the Global and the Planetary significantly. [^]
  10. It is also worthwhile to work simultaneously with an ‘ethics of incommensurability’ that Tuck and Yang (2012) in their radical stance on decolonization argue for. [^]

Competing Interests

The author has no competing interests to declare.

Author Information

I’d like to acknowledge Margaret Crawford, Greig Crysler and the members of my exam committee at Berkeley who critically engaged with me on many of these ideas. Thanks are also due to the organizers of the Princeton Doctoral Colloquium (2019) ‘Field Studies’, where I presented an early version of this piece. This essay would not be possible without the comments and editorial guidance, provided through Architectural Histories, of the anonymous reviewer, Sebastiaan Loosen and Samantha L. Martin-McAuliffe.


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EDA (University of California, Berkeley, Environmental Design Archives, Wurster Dean Collection). Proposed Policy Statement on a research program (Draft report from Sami Hassid Chairman of Architecture and James Prestini, dated January 2, 1958), Box 8, Folder Old Materials on Arch Research.

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