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Dissertation Proposal Defense: Iason Stathatos

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You are cordially invited to attend

the Dissertation Proposal Defense of Iason Stathatos


Design Before Present
Archaeology, architecture, and the design of time, 1896-1968.


To be held on


Tuesday, May 2nd, 2 pm ET

Room S-118



Not long ago, a startling contrast that had developed between architecture and archaeology became a great concern for architects. In a reversal of expectations, at the turn of the twentieth century, it was archaeology, not architecture, that had become the laboratory of a future that would be marked by mechanization. As the discipline that was meant to legislate on matters of time by assigning chronological simultaneity to ancient material remains through spatial research, archaeology increasingly engaged with cutting-edge media technologies and complex methods of recording, deciphering, and reporting infinitesimal traces. Such technologies, which involved new protocols to be designed, standards to be established, and meticulous, quotidian rigor to be achieved, shifted attention away from historicism and towards historicity, from relative towards absolute dating and the restructuring of time. Geology, geodesy, engineering, photogrammetry, physics, art history, anthropology, philology, and architecture intersected in modern archaeological fieldwork; but its coordination presented special epistemological and professional opportunities for architects. Because empires competed to fix space and time by covering the surface of the planet with ever expanding networks of electricity, telegraphy, and time unification zones, archaeology had to meet the demands for a unique organizational, economic, and governing model for modern empire building. 
Hence, archaeology became more architectural. Yet, by moving from the design of history to the design of time, through the performance of the future, slowly but steadily, architecture assumed the role of archaeology. This dissertation proposal aspires to contribute to the discipline of history and theory of architecture by means of establishing an interdisciplinary inquiry that delves into the field’s junction with the history of science and technology, media studies and art history to investigate the possibility of a new, subversive narrative of antiquity within the Modern, as well as to trace why archaeological fieldwork was left outside the architectural histories of the twentieth century.


Sylvia Lavin (adviser), Beatriz Colomina, Brooke Holmes, Spyros Papapetros