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agora III

OCTOBER 23 - 24 2025

MEDIATING MATTER(S) 

Architecture and Bodily Affects

 

 

Mediating Matter(s) seeks to unpack, contest, and subvert normative relationships between matter and bodies as they take place within architecture practice and discourse. This call asks: How does the mediation of matter(s) through architecture and by architects (broadly understood) normalize certain modes of being while undermining others? Expanding contemporary discussions on how the scales, movements, animacy,[1] and vibrancy[2] of matter unevenly affect and act on, through, and between diverse bodies as well as how such bodies are objectified, thingified,[3] reduced, and transformed into a labour force, our goal is to engage in a conversation that probes architecture’s complicity in rendering “some beings as more human than others,”[4] and marking all of us who “cohabit in the space of the undercommons,”[5] as ontologically empty. 

 

The aims of Mediating Matter(s) are twofold: to explore how architecture’s “orderly arranging of materials and bodies”[6] affirm the discipline’s violent legacies of exclusion and how bodies that fall beyond dominant norms of the human disrupt these configurations through non-normative entanglements with matter. This call hopes to bring together work from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to explore the intersections of architecture and urbanism with critical new materialism and colonial, subaltern, disability, queer, gender, sexuality, Black, and Indigenous studies, and welcomes papers that respond to the following topics: 

 

ON 

What are the effects of architecture’s organizing of matter on various bodies? In what ways have architecture’s material flows inscribed colonial, racist, sexist, and ableist legacies on and into the surface and substrata of the earth? How have architecture practices of material sourcing, extraction, construction, and discard reshaped the bodies of those who physically enact these processes? In what ways do constructed differences between the bodies of workers affect and disrupt assemblages of labour and architecture?

THROUGH 

How do architectural material and architecturally generated matter unevenly enter and traverse through diverse bodies? How do flows and transformations of particulate matter within and through surfaces and subsurfaces of bodies materialize and/or disrupt the myths of hierarchical differences of being? How does architecture reconfigure atmospheric and environmental matter to support normative modes of being and hinder those praxes that exist outside of its logic? In what ways does architecture facilitate or hinder the flows of (toxic) matter through varying bodies, producing narratives that maintain, reproduce, and/or disrupt dominant onto-epistemologies? How does architecture orchestrate the transformation, depletion, and/or negation of bodies?

BETWEEN 

How have architectural assemblages of matter mediated relationships between human and non-human beings? In what ways has architecture directed flows of matter to sever connectivity and affinity between diverse bodies? What solidarities have been formed around matter and working with matter, and what forms of bodily intimacy with matter have disrupted the exclusionary legacies of architecture? In what ways have non-normative modes of relationality or kinship between all those who live in “the undercommons”[7] altered the flows of architecture materiality and matter? 

INTO

What have been the roles of architects and architecture media and representation in inventing, accepting, resisting less-than-human labour practices by which some beings have been transformed into workforce? In what ways have representations of architecture communicated with and presumed the existence of a dehumanized and de-skilled labour force? What is the difference between a tool and an instrument, and what transforms a maker into a labourer? Which industries of architecture have relied on labour (de-humanized, de-skilled, or otherwise) and what are the mechanisms and the processes of invisibilization of labour by which it remains undervalued in architecture—as if drawings translated themselves into buildings and the lines that separate design and construction ended within construction drawings, details and specifications?

Notes:

1. Mel Y. Chen, Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering, and Queer Affect (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012).

2.Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

3.Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, translated by Joan Pinkham, Monthly Review Press (New York, 1950): 42.

4. Julietta Singh, Unthinking Mastery: Humanism and Decolonial Entanglements (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018): 4.

5. Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Wivenhoe and Port Watson, New York: Minor Compositions, 2013), 6.

6. Achille Mbembe, Brutalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2024), xii.

7. Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Wivenhoe and Port Watson, New York: Minor Compositions, 2013).

Presenters will have fifteen minutes to present their papers in English, followed by a discussion period. Abstract proposals for papers must be approximately 350 words and submitted in a .docx format and a maximum of 2 images. The symposium will take place on OCTOBER 23 - 24, 2025 at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. All submissions will be kept anonymous and will be blind peer-reviewed. Please include your name, institution affiliation, four descriptive keywords, and a brief bio (100 words) in the email body. Applicants will be contacted in September 2024 with a decision.

 

Abstract proposals are due by July 15, 2024 

All proposals should be emailed to Cripticollab@gmail.com

 

Papers will be invited for consideration for a future publication. 

 

Important Dates

Deadline for submission of abstracts: July 15, 2024

Acceptance notification: September 20 2024

Symposium: October 23 - 24, 2025

CRIPTIC Convenors:

Ahmed Elsherif, Ushma Thakrar, Menna Agha, Federica Goffi

Book of Abstracts forthcoming
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS
SPONSORS
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