a conference at Columbia GSAPP (Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation)
May 4th-5th, 2012
keynote speaker: Mark Jarzombek (MIT HTC)
CALL FOR PAPERS due February 3rd, 2012
Made effective in the Fall of 2006, the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) put into effect a small but significant revision to the “non-Western studies” requirement. The change asked that students develop an understanding of non-Western cultures as opposed to merely acquiring an awareness of them (as required by the 1998 accreditation conditions). In 2009 the NAAB again revamped the student performance criteria consolidating all history requirements under a single heading. As a requirement originally negatively defined against the “Western” tradition, to which the NAAB and the schools it accredits ostensibly belong, the “non-West” was conceived as sometimes parallel, sometimes divergent, but always other to the “West.” The new requirements, yet to take effect, re-conceive these once separate realms as a single “Global Culture,” though one composed of various historical traditions and national settings from the East, West, North and South.
Is this total re-conception of history in the context of a ‘globalized’ architectural praxis an overdue recognition of marginalized architectural cultures as equally valid, or is it simply an erasure of distinct cultural differences? What new problems does the rubric of “Global Culture” present to the teaching of architecture history in professional schools? For, though the binary distinction of the west/non-west was over-simplified, it did have the potential to produce, however problematically an alternate subjectivity from which the non-west could position itself against the hegemonic cultural practices of the ‘West’. It is precisely at the moment of the disappearance of the “non-West” that we require, more than ever, its critical redress.
If we shift our gaze to a larger institutional setting, “area studies” have developed in various universities in Euro-American countries (the US and the Great Britain in particular) since the beginning of the Cold War, often for politically and economically strategic purposes. Consequently, various programs were established, such as South Asian Studies, Middle Eastern Studies and so on, turning national as well as imposed geopolitical boundaries into seemingly hermetic disciplinary categories. Through this institutional framework, the knowledge of the non-West was tactically built into the “western” discourse. How can we situate the growing zeal of architectural discipline for understanding Non-Western otherness in this historical context?
On the other hand, this conference also seeks out the potentiality of the non-West. If the non-West is already-always imbedded in the western discourse, can this conceptual, geopolitical and pedagogical category of the other in turn provide an immanent critique of (non-) West from within? If so, can we, finally, overcome the West/Non-West binary?
300 word abstracts and a one page CV are due by February 3, 2012
selected papers will be notified by the end of February
participants will be expected to submit their completed 2500 word paper by April 13, 2012
send abstracts and questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Martinez, Chris Cowell, Norihiko Tsuneishi, Hollyamber Kennedy, James Graham
Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation Email: email@example.com
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