An Open Access Curriculum
This project asks what a curriculum on space-making and race-making might look like with architecture and the designed world as a key reference point. We engage with how understandings of race-making might be extended through imagined and constructed forms of architecture. Buildings, highways, suburbs and townships are constitutive of how individuals become positioned in a vast spectre of racial segregation, tangible in the shape of space and the materiality of concrete and corrugated iron. In this curriculum architecture is a way of imagining, building and validating a world. Architecture is bricks and mortar; the interior arrangements of culture in the positioning of thresholds, openings and objects; and the accumulation of these built forms and practices into social forms of association and dis-association. Architecture is also professionalised, existing as a highly mediated form of knowledge-making that interacts with speculators, planning authorities and local communities for its pay checks, compliance and legitimation. It lays claim to the physical and experimental possibilities of imagining that is frequently communicated through the visual formats of drawings, models, exhibitions and buildings.
At the project’s core is an understanding of racialisation as a process of violent displacement - of person, of land, of future - simultaneously with an emplacement through citizenship status, territory, built objects and knowledge forms. Our curriculum recognises a lineage of racialised hierarchies endemic to capitalist systems and cultural life that extend from colonialism to coloniality, slavery to incarceration, liberalism to subordination, and sovereignty to populism. We question both the subject of ‘race’ and the subject of architecture: how individuals are rendered as labourer, domestic worker, or immigrant in legal and cultural terms, with how the architectures of camp, compound and detention centre solidify the symbolic and lived forms of these positions. Yet within, around and beyond these structures of racial capital, is the substance of transgression. It conveys how struggles for social justice are galvanised through space in the convening powers of the margins, and in the arrangements of material and practices that together stake a place. Dance halls, streets, and spiritual interiors are counter architectures in which different circuits of connection, processes of validation and alternative ways of inhabiting the world are established.
We engage with three key questions
A Methodological Orientation
If race-making is configured in processes of displacement and emplacement, then part of the work of this curriculum must extend to methods that stretch across the unspectacular spatial practices necessitated by living with very little, to the extreme spatialities of banishment and punishment. Which vocabularies are able to incorporate the vast extent of dehumanisation across the spaces of body, nation and globe, and the reconstitutions of a humanity that speaks to a shared planetary future? What counter-mappings might allow us to push for wider and more varied forms of knowledge and understanding?
We begin first, to think though the frames that allow us to identify specific process of power and racialisation and the spaces and built forms in and through which they are sustained and transgressed. Within each frame we collect a range of references in the forms of film, drawings and text, to place together the varied modes of knowing about race-making and space-making. Some of these sources and inspirations come from the discipline of architecture, many do not. This is an important part of unsettling the disciplinary conventions of what architecture is, how it can be taught, and how architecture’s on the ground impacts and future possibilities can be understood.
Collecting, Selecting and Sharing a Curriculum
This curriculum is arranged in six frames each capturing ongoing process of racial ordering that is spatial and material: centralising, circulating, domesticating, extracting, immobilising and incarcerating.
Each frame is populated with different forms and modes of expression. We are mindful of the rich contributions of film, fiction and visualisation to help us see differently, and a selection – by no means definitive – comes upfront as a reference to the richly creative ways in which ‘race’, space and architecture is present in poetry, stories, and moving images. This is followed by a grouping of projects and images that help to reveal the textures and formal dimensions of race-making as it unfolds in space and architecture. Some of the links to projects are about the rampant dispossession of people from spaces and buildings in which they form lives and livelihoods. The links lead you to insights about activism, and how protest emerges and is sustained in and through buildings and spaces. Other links will take you sites which illuminate different ways of imagining human connection and disconnection, providing a vocabulary of different ways of thinking, learning and acting.
None of our frames or lists are in any way definitive, complete or precise. They are collections and selections of material that are intentionally varied in geography, discipline and form, and they are intended to provide an engaging and varied entry point into ways of thinking ‘race’, space and architecture. In this way we hope to reconstitute the idea of an archive as a messy, incomplete collection and selection of materials, that is enriched by a variety of forms of knowledge as much as by a collage of reference points drawn across the planet. For references we have listed as core texts we have engaged directly with respective authors who have kindly agreed to share their texts. The first phase of this curriculum was published in June 2019.