2019 Faculty Seed Fund Sprouts and Shoots: Part 1

December 16, 2019

This is the first in a series of Field Notes focused on the work resulting from the 2019 Research and Teaching Seed Funds. These short posts offer a brief look at the second round of emergent initiatives in environmental humanities being developed by Penn faculty with support from PPEH seed funds. Each of the projects will also be featured in short presentations as a part of our Spring Brown Bag Series beginning in January 2020. Stay tuned for details!


Habit | Habitat Workshop

September 14, 2019.

Daniel A. Barber (University of Pennsylvania)
Namita Dharia (Rhode Island School of Design)
Ikem Okoye (University of Delaware)
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi (Barnard College)

With students from the Weitzman School of Design Ph.D. Program in Architecture and the Princeton School of Architecture Ph.D. Program.

PPEH seed funds allowed for an emergent editorial collective to meet in person, develop a mission statement, and discuss next steps. Our ambition is to cultivate research projects that operate at the intersection of architecture, environment, and equity, and open towards new discursive, publication, and promotion pathways for junior and senior scholars alike. Following a workshop intended to clarify our ambitions, we invited a group of PhD students in architecture and art history to engage with a draft document, below. The students provided useful feedback which will inform our future discussions.


Habit | Habitat 

This platform explores the historical formations of the twinned conceptualization habit/habitat. The impact of habit is multifold; habits inform the relationship between bodies, cultures, and architecture on the one hand, and their complex geophysical effects on the other (the habit of turning down the heat); the habits and traditions of history and historiography serve as porous barriers to an activist scholarly practice (worlding the archive). In several ways, habitat ties into the contours between the person and lived worlds- of the molecular and the planetary, of the migratory and the landed- from precarious architectures to durable infrastructures, and from spaces carved by wind and rain to the routes formed by multispecies bodies and life ways. 

Through a mobile seminar and body of publication, we aim to develop a scaffold for thinking and working that migrates beyond bureaucratic interdisciplinarity and toward questions of affective and aesthetic meaning in the constructed environment (most broadly conceived). This requires attempts to create non-violent habits and habitats for knowledge production, predicated upon a politics of scholarly caregiving and multiplication of intellectual difference, along with their necessary alignments and solidarities. We present care and difference not as inalienable or apolitical, but as the substrate for debate.

The Conjunto Residencial Prefeito Mendes de Moraes, known as Pedregulho, a housing complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil designed by Affonso Eduardo Reidy and others in 1947. These images are from the 2015 renovation, initiated by residents and the city government after the poor state of the complex led to a recommendation for demolition.

Photographs by Daniel A. Barber