Anthropocene Feminisms: Architecture & Gender

This Spring 2018 Critical Studies in Architecture, Architecture and Gender elective seminar will take up the near-exhausted concept of the Anthropocene in order to explore the relationship between feminist practices and theories and the question of how we can care for our local environment-worlds. Coined by the ecologist Eugene Stroemer in the 1980s, and popularised by chemist and atmospheric scientist Paul Crutzen in the early 2000s, the Anthropocene describes the global impact of human industrial activity, from the development of agriculture to the construction of urban environments. This furious and fiery activity has incrementally produced an indelible geological trace on the surface of the planet earth, imprinting the earth with the “writings of the geologic record” (Yusoff 2015) as though in anticipation of a future reader. Theorists and practitioners who discuss the Anthropocene – a term that is composed of a ‘cene’ (a very long span of time) characterised by the material impact of the human creature (the Anthropos) – frequently posit a thought experiment: What would a future being, even an alien other millennia from now bear witness to when casting their gaze upon the planet earth? Such a thought experiment attempts to imagine a post-human future in the aftermath of the Anthropos. The apprehension of the Anthropocene – less something that can be discretely observed than a concept – produces a mixture of hubris and horror that confounds human understanding. It has produced a transdisciplinary outpouring of discourse in need of critique. Rather than cast our gaze speculatively into the distant future, this seminar will look to the dirty real of the here and now. We will do this by addressing the specific relationship that can be forged between the Anthropocene thesis and feminist theories and practices in relation to our local environment-worlds.

The murmuring discourse of the Anthropocene, together with the urgent need to reconsider of our environmental relations amidst contemporary crises, was part of what motivated the recently published collection Architecture and Feminisms: Ecologies, Economies, Technologies, edited by Hélène Frichot, Catharina Gabrielsson, and Helen Runting. Anthropocene discourse and the environmental humanities have likewise influenced the soon to be published special issue of ATR (Architectural Theory Review) Resist, Reclaim, Speculate: Situated Perspectives on Architecture and the City, edited by Isabelle Doucet and Hélène Frichot. The Anthropocene has entered architectural thinking and practice in books by Renata Tyszczuk, two books edited by Etienne Turpin, and in a special issue of the Journal of Architecture edited by Daniel Barber. It is an issue squarely addressed in Anthropocene Feminism, edited by Richard Grusin who posits it as a provocation to experiment from amidst our feminist theories and practices.

Can a critical and creative engagement in the Anthropocene thesis produce a reorientation of our thinking and practicing, including an experimentation with new methodologies and novel means of story-telling in architecture? Participants in this seminar will be asked to develop a relationship with a specific site deemed to be at the brink of environmental exhaustion. Whether this site is local or further away, material or immaterial, circumscribed or distributed, will depend on the choice that is made. From the outset it will be assumed that your chosen site is a complex hybrid of natural and cultural forces. The site you choose to address will be the site you apply yourself to with radical care throughout the duration of the seminar. You will return to it regularly, you will lavish attention on it, you will document and map it, and tell stories of its human and non-human relations.

Please note that this seminar course will include 5 meetings, 3 of which will be offered as intensive morning AND afternoon sessions. For our scheduled of readings please see: https://archandphil.wordpress.com/category/01_readings/

SCHEDULE

ONE: Wednesday 21 February – Introduction 14.00-16.00 (Room: A524)

The Anthropocene Thesis and Your Local Environment-World

Thursday 22 February – KTH LECTURE 18.00 (attendance strongly recommended)

 

TWO: Wednesday 7 March – 10.00-12.00 (TBC) and 14.00-16.00 (Room: A123; Room: A534)

Cartography of Exhaustion

This week the seminar is organised as part of an all day event where teachers and researchers leading  all elective seminars will present lectures. We will conclude the day with a meeting of our seminar group in room A534.

 

Thursday 22 March – KTH LECTURE 18.00 (attendance strongly recommended)

 

THREE: Wednesday 28 March – 10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00 (TBC)

On Things and How to Follow the Material

 

FOUR: Wednesday 11 April –10.00-12.00 and 14.00-16.00 (Room A524)

Anthropocene Story-Telling

This week, during the morning, we will join Sepideh Karami and Adria Carbonell Rabassa’s elective seminar to undertake exercises in story-telling and architectural fiction.

 

FIVE: Wednesday 25 April –14.00-16.00 CONCLUSION and EXAMINATION(Room A524)

Thursday 26 April – KTH LECTURE 18.00 (attendance strongly recommended)

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