The Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities Fall 2017 research forum focuses on materials that are important to urban life and infrastructure, including water, cargo, carbon, biota, air and building materials. Materials pose unique problems to our understanding of the built environment. Their scope ranges in time and scale from global networks and longue durée processes, to fleeting, microscopic phenomena, challenging scholars to rethink how they observe, theorize and tell stories about architecture, landscapes and the people that inhabit them. In order to explore new approaches, we present a series of dialogues between scholars of anthropology and architecture. Each dialogue focuses on a particular material, examining how materials shape the possibilities for human worlds, be they social, political, religious, cultural, or otherwise.
Forum events begin at 12:00pm and are held at the School of Architecture South Gallery.
September 25 / Biota
Stuart McLean (Minnesota), Peder Anker (NYU)
Our material environment includes not only nonliving material and human inhabitants, but also a wide range of nonhuman biota: animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, etc. How are these disparate biota conceived of and brought into engineered landscapes, and how can such intertwinings of human and nonhuman complicate our understanding of nature and culture? In this session, anthropologist Stuart McLean (University of Minnesota) and historian Peder Anker (NYU) discuss how humans and other biota co-create the landscapes in which we live. Following each 15-minute talk, we will have a discussion facilitated by anthropologist Andrew Alan Johnson (Princeton).