This seminar proposes to think of archives and archival work as potential forms of activism in the realm of architecture production and architecture discourse. Activism implies a political demand if we understand the political as a communicative and conflictual space in which we all decide as a society how to act together. Archives are neither neutral nor stable institutions. They are historical and political entities themselves. They preserve, legitimize and shape both production and consumption of histories and theories of the built environment. Going beyond but not excluding the examination of records preserved in architectural collections, this seminar tackles the historical and political processes of institutionalization, memory-making practices and socio-cultural legitimation of knowledge in architecture and urbanism.
What is an archive or what can it be? And can we look at the city as an archive? Bringing into view that every archive represents a particular and curated perspective, the seminar not only addresses how, why and through whom archives are being constructed, it also wants to explore ways to critically interrogate and maybe even deconstruct existing archives and ask whether decolonial, feminist, social and anti-racist approaches to working with and through archives can be considered forms of activism. Our efforts are to shift from a panoramic historical perspective on architectural research and to propose a platform for the exchange of situated positions, propositions and narratives.