MAS Context Fall Talks 2020

Architectures of Vigilantism

November 12, 2020 at 6PM

Lecture by architects Germane Barnes and Shawhin Roudbari, guest editors of our Vigilantism issue.


Architectures of vigilantism

In issue 33 of MAS Context, Germane Barnes, Shawhin Roudbari, and a cohort of contributors explore ways that space and design condition, encourage, and express acts of vigilantism. Encounters where citizens police one another along racialized, gendered, and classed lines are a characteristic of everyday life in the US. Aggressors accost, resistors assert, and witnesses evaluate the presence of bodies in space. Can designers, architects, and urbanists address vigilantism? The contributors to the forthcoming issue of MAS Context bring nuance and insight to this question.

Guest editors Germane Barnes and Shawhin Roudbari articulate problems of race and space in the US in their respective practices. In his work, Germane investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Mining architecture’s social and political agency from within the profession as well as cultural and ethnic studies, he examines how the built environment influences black domesticity. Complementary to this, Shawhin strives to bridge the chasm between sociological and architectural theories of race and racism. Sociological studies of racism address space well, but stop short of the architectural scale. Architectural studies of racism, in turn, struggle to acknowledge institutional forces of racism. Germane and Shawhin shared theoretical and visual progress in their respective and collaborative work.

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In what ways do architecture students internalize, and consent to, white hegemony in our designs, renderings, and colorblind attitudes around who does and who does not belong in the spaces we imagine? Collage by Ana Colon Quiñones, Dissent by Design, background renderings by others.

Mas event 2020 architectures of vigilantism 01

Frames Frames: seeing colorblind racism in architectural design exhibition, Environmental Design (ENVD) Gallery, University of Colorado Boulder, February 3-8, 2020. © Image courtesy of Angus Macinnis.

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Racial ID card that Miami Beach required for access if one were Black. © Image courtesy of Germane Barnes.

Suggested readings

Germane and Shawhin have drawn inspiration from works in architecture, race and ethnic studies, sociology, and poetry. The following suggested readings represent this range through particularly powerful expression:

– Katherine McKittrick, Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006). (All incredibly powerful, but see, in particular, her discussions of the garret, the slave ship, and the auction block.)

– Wendy Leo Moore, Reproducing Racism: White Space, Elite Law Schools, and Racial Inequality (Lanham, Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008). (Much of the content can translate from law to architecture.)

– Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2014). (See, for example, her passage on page 18.)

– Rashad Shabazz, Spatializing Blackness: Architectures of Confinement and Black Masculinity in Chicago (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2015).

– Craig L. Wilkins, The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture, and Music (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007). (Chapter 1 and his discussion of the whiteness and racism of Lockean notions of space offer important provocations.)