V.A #21| Toward an Anti-Racist Architectural History, or How to Stop Fetishizing Whiteness in Arch.

Presented by Charles Davis II, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture – University at Buffalo, New York.

This talk introduces the audience to the antiracist framework for architectural history that guided the formulation of the recent anthology Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (2020). This publication recovers the many ways that “race” and “modern architecture” have intersected with one another in the past, from the anthropological origin myths of European nationalism and Enlightenment thought to the colonial dissemination of modern architectures as physical and conceptual tools of identification and control. The intellectual framework for this study implicitly challenges us to come to terms with the racial politics we have inherited from the past by devising new strategies and tactics of reform to address the cultural biases created by the western architectural canon. I will speculate on one potential way forward, which is to rethink whiteness entirely so that it operates as just one manifestation—instead of as the privileged standard for western development as it did in the past—of “world cultures” in the present. This part of my talk follows the implications of Linda Alcoff’s book The Future of Whiteness as they relate to the current projects of reforming the western architectural canon for use in the present.

Seminar originally presented on 19/08/2020.

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