Architectural Theory Review 22:1

In search of new forms of critical and creative resistance, the Editors of this issue of ATR call for situated, relational, and embodied perspectives in architectural scholarship rather than distant, autonomous, and authoritarian ones. In this we draw our inspiration from radical (feminist) thinkers including Donna Haraway, Isabelle Stengers, Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and Karen Barad. Whilst the relevance of these perspectives for architectural and urban studies—and more specifically Donna Haraway’s “situated viewpoints” and Isabelle Stengers’s “ecology of practices” and “cosmopolitics”—have now, arguably, become evident, this issue asks how such approaches as these can also inform new critical engagements with architecture and the city. Through slowing down, hesitation (Stengers, 2005), and “category work” (Haraway, 2006), scholars are invited to resist the taxonomies and conceptual categories through which they have become accustomed, or feel obliged, to think. The Editors invite scholars to reconnect with (hi)stories and (radical) imaginations that tell alternative stories; stories that went unnoticed because they were considered odd, unrealistic, or inconvenient. From the authors named above, we learn that by reclaiming and reconnecting with alternative stories, other forms and imaginations of engagement, of resistance, can emerge.

This issue of ATR articulates embodied-relational and feminist perspectives as a form of critical engagement that can be, but are not necessarily, intertwined with the feminist struggle. It contends that a wider scholarly openness to feminist epistemologies and situated perspectives suggests valuable approaches to addressing timely and urgent questions regarding the ethical, political and critical agency of architecture and urban design. We seek accounts of concrete situations that challenge the authority of theoretical taxonomies and analytical categories, or that offer alternative forms of resistance that are embodied, situated, experimental, risky, and probing. It also asks how embodied-relational perspectives can inform not just critical analysis, but how they can inform critical (design) practices. What is the transformative potential and what are possible “speculative gestures” (Stengers and Debaise, 2015) of relational perspectives, for research, for theory, and for design?

The Editors invite contributors to examine the potential of situated perspectives for the study of architecture and the city and to demonstrate the possibility of a critical engagement in research and design through the analysis of concrete practices and practices of thought: architectural and urban, contemporary and historical. We welcome contributions from architectural and urban studies, and from fields outside (but pertinent to) the study of architecture and the city. Contributions may include papers that recount stories that do not fit neatly into the current discourses and paradigms; present models of critical engagement; or discuss material instances of the realization of feminist perspectives in speculative design practice.

Guest Editors

  • Isabelle Doucet 
  • Hélène Frichot 
  • Chris L. Smith

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