Ambivalent Geographies: Empire and Histories of Architecture

Patricia Morton
History of Art
UC Riverside

“Ambivalent Geographies: Empire and Histories of Architecture” brings together an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars to examine problems of empire in the history of architecture and urbanism in order to interrogate the persistence of location-based master narratives in discourses of national and racial origin. Geographers, architectural historians and art historians from Turkey, the UK and the US consider how empires have deployed architecture as a means of representing power, disciplining populations, and structuring everyday life, and comparing examples across spatial and discursive boundaries. The aim being not to expand the canon or fall back on simplistic models of center and periphery, but to produce nuanced readings based on complicated understandings of architectural and cultural difference. This allows for the problematization of the East versus West dichotomy dominating colonial and postcolonial discourse equally. The conference examines instances of empire building in architectural and urban history, resisting a new totalizing discourse while sponsoring a comparative perspective.