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ARCH-880N Security, Space, and Power

3 Credits

This course explores the relationship between power and space through readings in political philosophy and spatial practices in architecture and the arts. This year’s seminar focuses on the work Michel Foucault and focuses on contemporary debates about economy, biology, race, and social justice. These include the spatial features that connect the pandemic to global economies and the criminalization of race to the technologies of policing and juridical procedure. Foucault addresses these subjects through historical research on systems of knowledge and how they emerge simultaneously as institutional forms of discourse that have social and spatial implications. The various contemporary power relations which we experience today, which link, for example, racism to biopolitics, or incarceration to the “dangerous individual,” are an effect of those power/knowledge relations. But regardless of where his analysis operates, whether it is discourse, institutions, or technologies of governmentality, one of the consistent features is how it underlines the spatial conditions of power-knowledge relations, how they sometimes isolate and partition, how at other times they pull together different disciplines and strategies and constitutes new knowledge-relations, forming new identities of subjectivity or new conditions of subjectivity vis-à-vis norms, or populations. In other words, power spatializes relationships in a manner that is at once constitutive, fragile, and asymmetrical. It is from that point of view, Foucault argues, that the power of protest and resistance, the power of revolution, or the power of counter-conduct can find their precise axes of operation and transformation. Thus, although Foucault’s work on the interplay between knowledge, institutions, and governmentality and the spatial domains they constitute are in fact a way of getting at the problem of power, they are also about the problem of justice. Indeed, Foucault’s ultimate interest isn’t power, but rather the subject’s relationship to it vis-à-vis biological, racial, juridical, economic, medical, penal, or political discourse, and because of this, his style of research has had one of the most significant impacts on scholars from various disciplines on a global level since the late 20th century from anthropology and sociology to legal studies and economics. Along with Foucault’s texts we will examine a series of critical reflections that expand, shift, or contradict the subject-matter and style of research. These include theories of representation, sexuality, subaltern studies, and gender, race, economy and law, which are represented Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, Silvia Federici, Daniela Allen, and Bina Agarwal. Throughout the semester we will review the architectural writings and projects including work by the historians Robin Middleton and Mary Mcleod, contemporary theorists Paul Hirst and Keller Easterling, and projects by Bernard Tschumi, Laura Kurgan, and Eyal Weizman and identify further the role Foucault has played in architectural discourse since the late 20th century. Studies of art practices will include Vito Acconci and Sanja Ivekovic, Andrea Fraser and Hans Haacke, Maria Theresa Alves and Kara Walker, The Guerilla Girls and Act-Up.