Anti-Racism in Thesis Workshop
Saturday, February 27, 2021, 10am - 4pm
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As part of an ongoing effort at The Cooper Union’s School of Architecture to decolonize the curriculum and advance anti-racist pedagogies, this workshop seeks to extend this work specifically to Thesis courses in architecture. How does decolonial and anti-racist pedagogy translate onto the Thesis syllabus, conversation formats, and advising models? Considering the architecture design Thesis as a world-making exercise, how can the course advance an approach for a world in which many worlds fit, recognizing and working against the discipline’s biases and maintenance of white supremacy and other constructed hierarchies of peoples, cultures, and histories? Understanding that “every community practices the design of itself,” (Escobar, 2017), what might be some guiding principles for the architecture design Thesis curriculum to advance work that rethinks the communal and dismantles white supremacist and other racist or patriarchal power dynamics—not just through speculative design work, but also within the studio and its surrounding learning environments?
This event gathers student organizers and educators from around the country and the world to share insight, strategy, and experiences. From within the school of architecture, participants will include staff, faculty, and students, including the Architecture Lobby at the Cooper Union, and members of the school’s Anti-Racist Taskforce.
Invited participants include: Nada Ayad (Cooper Union), Esther Choi (Office Hours), Nitasha Dhillon and Amin Husain (MTL / Decolonize This Place), Hayley Eber (Cooper Union), Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia (WAI Think Tank), Mario Gooden (Columbia GSAPP), Mauricio Higuera (Cooper Union), Mychal Johnson (South Bronx Unite), Mpho Matsipa (Wits University), Kit Nicholls (Cooper Union), Malcolm Rio (BSA+GSAPP), Akira Drake Rodriguez (University of Pennsylvania), Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (Barnard College / Columbia University), Austin Wade Smith (Cooper Union), and Ife Vanable (Cooper Union).
Participating undergraduate students include: Taesha Aurora, David Bermudez, Ezekiel Binns, Annabella Chen, Shishen Chen, Karina Chivikova, Zhenia Dementyeva, Juan Carlos Javier, Sanjana Lahiri, Zalmaï Levrat, Maksymillian Mamak, Alisa Petrosova, Stella Blue Porzungolo, Sarah Saad, and Brandy Vazquez.
Participating graduate students include: Sally Chen, Yingxiao Chen, Giedre Darskute, Nien Ying Lin, Jamie Lindsey, Austin McInnis, Roni Schanin, Doosung Shin, and Qicheng Wu.
This event is organized by the students listed above, together with Assistant Professor Nora Akawi, and Steven Hillyer and Chris Dierks of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture Archive.
This workshop, which is free and public, will be conducted through Zoom. Zoom account registration is required.
While planning this event, a number of issues came up concerning both racism and coloniality in formats, languages, and archives as they appear in architecture academia. One issue we will tackle directly in this workshop is the architecture review. As a result, we are planning to hold a review of ongoing Thesis work at Cooper, while also discussing the review itself, its associated languages and formats, and how they may perpetuate hierarchies and biases. During the last session, the discussion will address anti-racism and anti-coloniality in the Thesis curriculum more broadly.
10:00 – 10:10 Introductions
Nader Tehrani, Steven Hillyer, and Nora Akawi
10:10 – 10:15 Anti-Racism Task Force: Manifesto and Call for Action
10:15 – 10:20 Architecture Lobby Chapter at The Cooper Union
Annabella Chen and Sanjana Lahiri
10:20 – 11:00 Anti-Racist Architecture Education Manual
WAI Think Tank (Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia)
Introduced and moderated by Jamie Lindsey
11:00 – 1:00 An Architecture Thesis Review
Presentations by current Thesis students (two pairs of presentations and
discussions): Taesha Aurora + Juan Carlos Javier, Maksymilian Mamak +
Discussants: Annabella Chen, Nitasha Dhillon, Amin Husain, Mychal
Johnson, Austin McInnis, Akira Drake Rodriguez, Sarah Saad, and Ife
Introduced and moderated by Nora Akawi
1:30 – 2:40 On the Architecture Review: Formats and Languages
Discussants: Nada Ayad, Esther Choi, Kit Nicholls, Malcolm Rio, and Austin
Moderated by: Annabella Chen, Hayley Eber, Alisa Petrosova, and Stella
2:40 – 3:50 On Anti-Racist, Anti-Colonial Pedagogy in Thesis
Discussants: Mario Gooden, Mpho Matsipa, and Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Moderated by: Taesha Aurora, Mauricio Higuera, Sanjana Lahiri, Austin
McInnis, and Brandy Vazquez
3:50 – 4:00 Closing Remarks
This workshop has been made possible by generous support from The Cooper Union Grant Program.