Journal of Architectural Education issue 74:2, editors:  David Theodore (McGill University) and Tanya Southcott (McGill University)

What else is there? Who else is other?

In the immediate global order of the post-Holocaust, post-Hiroshima world, scholars took on the task of expanding the stories we tell of ourselves to give accounts of others. In anthropology, geography, sociology, literature, art, and history, intellectuals developed methods and approaches that positioned human cultures in new relations to those formerly excluded, subordinated or defined as other. Scholars proffered ecological understandings of human life and the built environment, attentive to the complexity and fragility of the natural world and global cultures. More recently, research on gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class, for example, has been a powerful tool for challenging our reliance on grand narratives. Within architecture, it has helped to evaluate inequalities and to expand our study of actors in the creation of cultural landscapes and built environments to include all those buried in history. Because these approaches reflect upon their own practices of othering, they have helped make us aware of the limitations of our own experiences and encouraged empathy towards differing perspectives. As designers, educators, and theorists, acknowledging who/what/how we other is one way to take responsibility for our privileges and prejudices and to appreciate how the world is shaped by difference. 

How do we take stock of othering in architecture and to what end? The political and activist concerns animating discussions today produce a matrix of possible otherings: architecture as an analytic and practice that interrogates the ways we distinguish, label, and categorize people, institutions, codes, and norms; and, in reverse, how attention to the processes of othering can interrogate architecture’s own exclusions in education, history, geographies, and practices. What bodies are identified or excluded from different forms of representation? In what ways do the sociological structures of architectural education produce others, that is, subjects and subject matters beyond the pale of campus walls? To what degree can architectural practice promote equity, diversity, and inclusion, especially in representational and symbolic practices that police or subvert social order? In short, the possibility to question how architecture participates in distributing the “us” and the “other” is now upon us. Despite their relegation to the margins, others have shaped architecture’s trajectories as fundamental figures in its formulation and legitimization. Through their absent presence they complicate, critique and challenge basic assumptions and traditional practices. They represent and manifest difference and diversity through the intersections of class, race, age, sexuality, disability, and gender.

The Journal of Architectural Education issue 74:2 seeks Scholarship of Design, Design as Scholarship, and Micro-Narratives that address othering in the pedagogy, practice, and study of architecture. Given the myriad of possible others—geographical, anthropological, sociological, and psychological inclusions and exclusions—how might an assessment of othering in architecture look? How do representations and image-making practices construct an other? How do architecture’s others occupy positions of power? In what way do building codes, zoning regulations, or participatory decision-making structure segregation processes? Does professional architecture’s commitment to competition culture open practice to others? How might we evaluate, promote, or resist activist strategies for inclusion, such as experimental curriculums, alternative admissions criteria, and/or decolonized studio culture? How do we postulate or challenge future architectures of othering?


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