Call for Papers: ARDETH #6, Contingency

Theme editors: Dana Cuff and Will Davis

To incorporate contingency into our fundamental thinking about architecture contradicts the way we theorize, practice, and historicize the field. Accidents happen, but they are rarely left to chance, and architects rarely let chance play role in their visions. Through genealogies, logics, and analyses, historians are more likely to write narratives that create continuities and coherence, while the present unfolds with uncertainties and ambiguity. Some narratives are about contingent conditions, but few offer explanations that are themselves contingent. Histories of cities and buildings cannot help but address contingencies, yet even these scripts resist multiple, contradictory, and inexplicable scenarios. Increasingly, both architects and historians must account for the contingent, open, and indeterminate. Whether considering a new climatic regime or alarming political turns, the “contingency plan” is fast becoming a core aspect of architectonic projection. If we imagine the architect (or theorist) standing at the edge of the realm of possibility, her counterpart, “circumstance”, is receding into the distance. Lying between these two poles is a topography of contingency—the topic for this issue of ARDETH. Contingency flies in the face of authority over a work, over a world that favours certainty. When histories of the built environment are written as if accident plays no part, the unpredictable and the inadvertent lurk between the lines. To this end, contingency as a mode of interpretation guides us toward the multiple and the collaborative and away from the authoritative. Context, circumstance, and relevance can be embraced in order to poke at the canon, destabilizing its comfortable narratives.

Submission deadline: 20 July 2019.

The full call for papers can be found here.

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