Architecture and Endurance
European Architectural History Network Thematic Conference
Call for Papers
- Please submit your abstract and CV to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Abstracts should be around 400 words.
- Please attach a two-page CV.
- Abstract submission deadline: 31 January 2021
- Announcement of accepted papers: 15 March 2021
Endurance is a state of surviving, remaining alive; the ability to continue a given task; the power of withstanding hardship. Its original meaning implies continued existence and ability to last. As such it has implications not only for how architecture is conceptualized but also for the ways within which architectural historiography is conceived.
The recent “global turn” in architectural history foregrounded synchronic, relational approaches through chronological cross-sections that extend over vast geographical and cultural territories at defined time intervals. Yet, the panoramic view of global histories is also accompanied by a diachronic tendency to go deep into the specific histories of single buildings and sites; to produce biographies of buildings and sites in longue durée, often bridging successive cultural contexts that might have been conventionally perceived as unrelated. This is in line with recent scholarship on eastern Mediterranean and South West Asia, as one example, where instead of sharp breaks and clean starts, the continuities, borrowings and adaptations between Greco-Roman, Byzantine and Islamic cultures are traced which productively shed light on the latter. As the historian Cemal Kafadar convincingly argued, it was not uncommon among the Ottomans to describe their central territories as the “Lands of Rum” maintaining, cognizantly or not, the linguistic legacy of the eastern Roman Empire whose lands they came to occupy. Increasingly, the entanglements of successive polities and cultures and not only synchronically but also diachronically intertwined nature of their histories are revealed. All these tendencies are complemented by the current interdisciplinary queries to rethink spolia and the proliferating literature on it which approaches the subject from different angles. Whether considered a violent act and looting, as in its original meaning, or reuse, appropriation, survival and revival the concept of spolia harbors an implied continuity and persistence at some level, and provides a fecund category to think about architecture, both buildings and sites, in longue durée. As elaborated by Ivana Jevtic in Spolia Reincarnated: Afterlives of Objects, Materials, and Spaces in Anatolia from Antiquity to the Ottoman Era, spolia might be explained by the interconnected notions of reincarnation and afterlife where “to be reincarnated means to appear and live again but in a different body, while afterlife signifies a form of new life.”
All these recent developments reverberate with some long-standing bodies of thought and perspectives on history and the past in architectural and urban history and theory. Now architectural histories are not content to treat architecture as objects whose life spans are limited to their conception and production but productively query the “afterlives” of buildings and sites after the architect’s work is done. Concepts such as “palimpsest” and “cumulative city” have long been part of the tool kit of the students of the city. Some late twentieth-century approaches to the city, most emphatically embodied by Aldo Rosssi’s formulations in his 1966 L’architettura della città but an outcome of a wide variety of studies in different disciplines and geographical contexts from French urbanism and geography to typological and morphological studies, emphasized the existence of accumulated layers of history and “permanences” in the city extending over different historical and cultural contexts. Despite the disjunctive modern reflex to break free from the past, challenging conceptualizations did emerge even at the heyday of high modernism such as the concept of continuità developed in the pages of the journal Casabella in the 1950s.
In this conference we would like to critically explore “endurance” as an umbrella concept and analytical category vis-à-vis architecture that illuminates the queries and researches stated above and others that could not be included here. We are interested in particular historical case studies of “endurance” from any historical, geographical and cultural contexts. Cases that blur the boundaries between what has been conventionally defined as “Europe,” and “European” identities with their “others” are especially welcome. Reengagements with existing (architectural and urban) theories and creative juxtapositions of theories and case studies are also encouraged.
- Material, textual, visual, and representational continuities between the spaces and architectures of different cultural and historical contexts
- The multiple meanings of spolia: rupture or constancy?
- Heritage as afterlives of buildings, sites and objects
- Rethinking the concepts of palimpsest, cumulative city, urban artifact, “permanences” in the city
- Endurance of the modern
- Endurance as a material quality of architecture
2021-03-15 | Announcement of accepted papers
Middle East Technical University, Ankara