Loudreaders Session 16

A Manual of Anti-Racist
Architecture Education

WAI Architecture Think Tank

October 25 2020, 2020 4:00pm

LOUDREADERS Session 16: Manual of Anti-Racist Architecture Education
October 25, 2020
6:00pm EST

Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski / WAI Architecture Think Tank loudreads the publication of A Manual of Anti-Racist Architecture Education.

Download the Manual free here.

A Manual of Anti-Racist Architecture Education
First Published 2020

Design and Content:
Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski
WAI Architecture Think Tank

Ronald Frankowski


An Introduction to this Manual of
Anti-Racist Architecture Education

This document is a work of anti-capitalist realism that acknowledges the unsustainable character of a knowledge and material economy made possible via the inhumane occupation of indigenous land and the brutal materialization of anti-Black racism and its aftermath.

Why focus specifically on architecture education, since anti-Black racism and settle-colonialism could (and should) be tackled through the lens of any other major discipline or epistemological system? As stated in Un-Making Architecture: An Anti-Racist Architecture Manifesto (in the third part of this manual), architecture has been instrumental in the installation and consolidation of settler-colonialism and the full spectrum of extractive, abusive, racist, capitalist, postimperial infrastructures of oppression. In the way that buildings are never just buildings, architecture is not a bubble.

To address architecture is to engage with the multidimensional and material legacy of settler-colonialism, capitalism, and, as a direct result, racism. To deal with architecture is to confront the processes of planning and constructing the ways in which we live together and the many forms we are compartmentalized, regulated, and segregated. To engage with architecture is to face the effects of zoning practices, the fabrication of private property in occupied territories, of the conceptualization, design, and construction of concentration camps, division walls, buildings and infrastructures for policing, prisons, border checkpoints, but also of racialized suburban settlements, school buildings and hospitals. Because architecture affects everybody, a radical and abolitionist pedagogy of architecture must embrace all the peoples, not just those officially trained as architects.

Because anti-racism is not taught but practiced, an anti-racist pedagogy is not only about the political and ideological content embedded in the syllabus of the design studio, the critical content of the history of theory seminar, and the emancipating potential that technical, and how-to knowledge can bring, but about interpersonal relations, radically inclusive learning spaces, anti-occupation and de-occupation practices, and anti-hegemonic institutional approaches.

Anti-racist pedagogies have to engage simultaneously with the continuous omission, invisibility, and violent erasure of Black, indigenous people, and racialization of non-white people, the relationship to class and racialized impoverishment and precarity while avoiding and challenging the tokenization, instrumentalization, and objectification of these same people. Because universities, and architecture schools have been particularly instrumental in constructing and maintaining the legacy of white supremacist settler-colonial states, it is not enough to make symbolic gestures or “settler moves to innocence” as Eve Tuck and K.Wayne Yang describe in ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor.’

Education models pursuing anti-racist practices must respect and protect the “right to opacity” that Edouard Glissant articulates in Poetics of Relation. The right to opacity stands against the “reductive transparency” that commodifies, instrumentalizes and profits from decodifying Blackness or indigenousness or any other form of racialization. This “settler move to innocence”, as Tuck and Yang describe, is how mainstream educational research reduces indigenous people between “at risk” peoples and as asterisk peoples erasing and then concealing “the erasure of Indigenous peoples within the settler colonial nation-state and moves Indigenous nations as ‘populations’ to the margins of public discourse.”

The process of making transparent (turning identities into a monolith to be understood), of objectifying (turning them into objects to be studied or fetishized as part of a spectacle or a set of requirements), but also of overlooking (ignoring and making invisible not only the people but their forms of knowledge), are part of ‘settler moves to innocence” that “problematically attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity.” That’s why it is not enough to add portions about class struggle, and include some Black, indigenous, or Latina references to curriculums without meaningful change. Truly diverse voices and experiences (racialized, class, gender, and sexual identities) are fundamental to the possibility of an anti-racist pedagogy. Books about labor and capitalism that don’t engage with the history of settler-colonialism, slavery, and race shouldn’t exist in an anti-racist academic setting. White designers profiting from Black and indigenous labor shouldn’t have a place in anti-racist settings. Black, indigenous, and other voices shouldn’t need white translators in an anti-racist setting. Just like Tuck and Yang argue that decolonization “is and requires more than a metaphor”, so does anti-racism.

Because architecture education is not only confined to the space of the academia even if architecture schools have been fundamental in the regulation of the practice of architecture with a capital ‘A’ in many parts of the world, this manual accounts for what happens before, after, and despite formal architectural education.

Simultaneously a working tool, a historically situated manifesto, a pedagogical guideline, and a speculative treatise on the future of pedagogy, this Manual of Anti-Racist Architecture Education exclaims that because other worlds are possible, urgent, and necessary, other models of architectural education are not only possible but imperative.

Divided in three parts, this manual engages with the concept of schooling in relationship to architecture without reducing what architecture is, has been, or could be, and instead, dissects the many fronts architecture operates, influences, affects, regulates, contains, delimits, excludes, protects, consolidates, and oppresses.

The first part of the manual, Before School discusses some of the problems regarding the legitimation of particularly problematic and inaccessible forms of architectural education. A series of Anti-Liberation Paywall Diagrams contrast class and racial segregation with tuition fees, estimated total costs, and endowments of some of the perceived elite architectural institutions in the United States. Through these graphics, a critical imagination may be able to reflect on the relationship between universities, not only as centers of intellectual and cultural capital, but as settler-colonial tools of land occupation, gentrification, and racial oppression.

During School presents an annotated version of the Anti-Racist Spiral of Architecture Education. The Anti-Racist spiral is a diagram that questions structural forms of knowledge while proposing emancipating epistemologies, platforms, methods, strategies, and voices. Through the creation of an open spiral forms of education, histories, theories, and media are intersected through the centers of anti-racism, anti-ableism, transfeminism, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, and ecological justice in order to imagine other forms of architectural pedagogy.

In the third part of the manual, After School introduces Un-Making Architecture: An Anti-Racist Architecture Manifesto. The Anti-Racist Manifesto delves into the how architecture has been and continues to be central to the construction of race and the perpetuation of anti-Black racism.