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Town & Country: Architecture Between Dichotomies

Sat, May 5, 2018    10am

Town & Country: Architecture Between Dichotomies

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
—Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto (1848)

Recent global political events have exposed what seem to be sharp divisions among urban and rural areas. Following elections in the United States, Europe, and India and uprisings and violent conflicts in Syria, Brazil, Venezuela, and Myanmar, the urban/rural split has repeatedly been used to account for difference across disparate political and economic environments, disregarding particular issues of class, gender, and race. Already naturalized at the time of Marx and Engels’ writing, the separation of “country” and “town” has been used to explain people’s values, modes of living, and politics. While scholars such as William Cronon argue that the categories “urban” and “rural”—or relatedly “center” and “periphery”—are not two poles, but rather unstable ends of a continuum, the urban/rural dichotomy seems to have immense discursive and myth-making powers with very real consequences. Architecture, by operating on both material and discursive levels (from drawing lines, building walls, and arranging spaces to re-defining the concepts of exclusion, inclusion, belonging, land, rent, ownership, and density), mobilizes the urban/rural dichotomy. Addressing the vital role of architecture in producing both the condition and meaning of “urban” and “rural,” this conference revisits the origins and consequences of the dichotomy and asks how it gained explanatory power at different moments in time. Through investigating the historical emergence and usage of the urban/rural split, we aim to discuss the analytical value of the dichotomy in our present day: what does it help us see, what does it occlude?

10:00am Dichotomies of City/Country

Michael Faciejew (Princeton)
To Urbanize the World: Imperialism and Internationalism in Paul Otlet’s Cité Mondiale
Leo Steeds (Warwick)
Adam Smith, Henri Lefebvre, and the Political Economy of the Town and Country
Umberto Mazzei (Columbia)
A Place on a Page: The City as Sign in Latin American Urban History
Response by Peter Minosh

1:00pm Territories of City/Country

Jessica Ngan (Princeton)
The Horizontal Skyscraper and the Petting Farm: Agrarian and Pastoral Imaginaries in Corporate America
Maria C. Taylor(Michigan)
Hygiene, Efficient, and Green: Designing City-Nature Fusion after Stalin
Diederik de Koning (Delft University of Technology)
Fields of Peace: Inner Colonization and Farm Reconstruction in Post-War Switzerland and the Netherlands
Dalal Musaed Alsayer (UPenn)
Importing the “Rural” and “Urban”: The Architecture of Postwar American Aid in the Middle East
Response by Ayala Levin

3:30pm Technologies of City/Country

Erik Carver(Columbia)
Rustic Metropolis
Adam Walls (UCL)
The Imperial Brilliance of Electric Light
Maura Lucking (UCLA)
Tuskegee Pastoral: Industrial Education and the Construction of the New South
Response by Irene Cheng

Organized by the Ph.D. Program in Architecture. Free and open to the public. Reception to follow.