Histories of Architecture Against

This course focuses on the challenges of writing histories of architecture against—against capital, against the state, or other types of power. In the first half of the course, we will examine the links between the task of the historian and systems of domination such as colonialism and settler colonialism, and the technologies mobilized by these systems to exert power over territories and subjects. In the second half, we will discuss systems of control including citizenship, culture, and real estate, as well as the work of agents within, against, or outside these systems.

How do we historicize the production of spaces and works of defiance? How do we trace systems and networks designed to promote non-compliance? We will look at histories of subjects that managed to escape or elide the reach of empire, as well as case studies of architects operating against the state and actors shaping the built environment outside the traditional boundaries of the discipline. We will discuss historians’ challenges in navigating representation, partisanship, and operative criticism, and the methodological complications of writing histories of disenfranchised, marginalized, and dispossessed groups as they design, produce, and claim space.

Readings problematize and complicate the intellectual production of Western intellectuals with the work of Postcolonialism, the Black Radical Tradition, Latin American Marxism, Decolonization theory, intersectional feminism, and other groups, together with historical narratives of resistance, non-compliance, disobedience, and other alternatives in resistance to power. Evaluation will be based on class participation, leading one discussion during the semester, three short writing assignments, and a final paper.


This advanced history elective is designed for students in the postprofessional (MDES) and doctoral programs (PHD/DDES) as well as students in the professional programs who have completed core and, preferably, are embarking on thesis. Some knowledge of the history and theory of architecture is highly recommended but not required.

A limited number of seats are held for PhD students. Interested PhD students should contact the instructor as well as petition to cross-register.