Assembling Values: Architecture and Political Economy

May 6-7, 2016 (view in event calendar)

Keynote Speaker: Arindam Dutta, MIT HTC

The conference Assembling Values: Architecture and Political Economy seeks to measure the extent to which architecture has not only been formed by, but is also productive of political-economic formations throughout the world.

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, a landscape marked by foreclosed homes, empty luxury towers, divided cities, and occupied streets has fueled debates concerning architecture’s relation to political economy. Salient among such debates is the question of whether architecture is doomed to remain a testimonial backdrop, a mere reflection, of financial capitalism, or whether it may offer more nuanced, and more effective, histories and analytics for the study of political economy.

If so, then this global, increasingly uneven, landscape compels us to recognize the instrumentalities and values that sustain and augment economic power relations through architecture’s own workings and operations. The moment is ripe for the reevaluation of old frameworks in order to consider the role of architecture, planning, and development in assembling the political-economic nexus

Building up to this graduate conference were three workshops

  • September 2015: PhD workshop with invited guest Professor Daniel Abramson (Art & Art History, Tufts University)

  • January 2016: PhD workshop with invited guest Professor Julia Elyachar (Anthropology & Economics, UC Irvine)

  • February 2016: PhD workshop with invited guest Professor Stephen Collier (International Affairs, New School)

The speakers shared and discussed their recent projects with a group of PhD students. The workshops argued that architecture actively participates in the making of political-economic regimes through multifarious forms and at different scales, ranging from the city to the street, to the building, and even to the pipe.

Organizers of the graduate conference and the workshops

Aaron Bradley White, Alexander Hilton Wood, Amy Zhang, Ashraf Abdalla, Erik Carver, Eva Johanna Schreiner, Jonah Rowen, Manuel Shvartzberg-Carrio, Norihiko Tsuneishi and Oskar Orn Arnorsson.