Race and Modern Architecture Project (R+MAP)- Call for Contributors

The Race and Modern Architecture Project (R+MAP) seeks contributors to join an interdisciplinary research group focused on race and modern architecture.

The project investigates how race–an aesthetic category that mobilizes concepts of human difference in order to create hierarchies of power–has been integral in shaping architectural discourse from its conceptualization in the Enlightenment to the present. Examples of familiar if understudied intersections between racial and architectural theory include Winckelmann’s idealization of Greek bodies and buildings, Adolf Loos’s association of tattooing and ornament with ‘primitive’ peoples, and Le Corbusier’s evocations of the ‘primal energy’ of Black jazz as spur to the rational, radiant European city. Redressing a longstanding neglect of racial discourses among architectural scholars, the project seeks to uncover how racial thinking influenced some of the foundational concepts of modern architecture and urban theory, including the primitive hut, ornament, national style, organicism, modernism, regionalism, postmodernism, and the digital. How has the racial been deployed to organize and conceptualize the spaces of modernity, from the individual building to the city to the nation to the planet?

Contributors will receive a modest stipend and travel assistance to take part in a seminar to be held at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in spring 2016. Following the seminar, each participant will develop an original 4000-5000-word essay for compilation in an edited volume. A symposium launching the publication will be held in New York in 2017.

Ideal contributors include scholars who have already conducted research on race and modern architecture, as well as those who have not previously focused on racial theory but whose work may have broached related subjects, including colonial and post-colonial architecture, history of science, climate, regionalism and aesthetics. The aim of the project is to stimulate new research on race and modern architecture through the creation of an open, collaborative platform. Participants will have access to shared readings and will have the opportunity to engage with leading scholars of racial theory from disciplines such as literature, post-colonial studies, and American studies. We welcome academics at every stage of their careers, from advanced doctoral students to senior scholars.

Prospective applicants should send an email expressing their interest in joining the Race and Modern Architecture to RaceModernArch@gmail.com before June 30, 2015. Please include a CV, a short paragraph describing a potential research topic related to race and architecture, and a writing sample. Accepted collaborators will be notified by July 31.

The Race and Architecture project is co-directed by Professors Mabel Wilson (Columbia University), Charles Davis (University of North Carolina – Charlotte) and Irene Cheng (California College of the Arts).


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