I am participating in a panel discussion with Peg Rawes at the 13th AHRA Conference Architecture and Feminisms, KTH School of Architecture,17-19 November, 2016

The panel will explore whether contemporary affirmations of

materialism and biopolitical affect can be brought together with

forms of rationalism and critically reflective thought to which

they are typically opposed. How, we ask, can we produce from

these different traditions of constructing alterity, a theory of

practice adequate to the demands placed upon architectural

history and theory today?

As Rawes has noted, feminist and ecological thought alike

have produced discourses in which reason and technology are

sexed as ‘male’, and thus castigated as essentially oppressive,

whereas the material, sensed or ecological are sexed as

‘female’. Opposing the continuation of this split as obstructive

to the creation of an effectively ecological architecture, Rawes

has turned both to feminist theories of the nonhuman — e.g.

Haraway and Braidotti — and to the proto-ecological thinking

of ‘ratio’ in Spinoza in order to argue for the possibility of a

‘humane’ architecture.

Spencer will here pursue a similar objective, but through

different means; Adorno and Horkheimer’s critique of the

split between reason and the senses as the founding act of

Enlightenment thought read, in Dialectic of Enlightenment,

through Homer’s The Odyssey as a gendered division between

reason and matter. At the same time, and through the same

means, he will also explore certain of the difficulties he perceives

in the work of neo-materialists, such as Braidotti, around

the discourse of bodies, subjects and their relationship to environments,

including those produced through architecture.

Peg Rawe s is Professor of Architecture and Philosophy,

and Programme Director of the Masters in Architectural History

at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. Recent publications

include: Equal By Design (co-authored with Beth Lord, in

collaboration with Lone Star Productions, 2016); ‘Humane and

inhumane ratios’ in The Architecture Lobby’s Aysmmetric Labors

(2016); Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture

and the Arts (co-ed., 2016); Relational Architectural Ecologies

(ed., 2013).

Douglas Spencer is the author of The Architecture of

Neoliberalism (2016). A regular contributor to Radical Philosophy,

he has also written chapters for recent collections on architecture,

politics and critical theory, and published numerous essays

in journals such The Journal of Architecture, AD, AA Files, New

Geographies and Praznine. He teaches at the University of Westminster and at the AA’s Graduate School of Design at the Architectural Association, London.


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