Blackness in Practice

 

The following essay appears in volume 42 (Winter/Spring) issue of Log, a special issue that was entitled “Disorienting Phenomenology.” The full title of my essay is “Blackness in Practice: Toward an Architectural Phenomenology of Blackness.” I would like to thank the editors for permitting me to post this essay on my academic blog.

Log 42_front_cover

Table of Contents

  • Joseph Bedford – Toward Rethinking the Politics of Phenomenology in Architecture
  • Kevin Berry – Heidegger and the Architecture of Projective Involvement
  • Jos Boys – Cripping Spaces? On Dis/abling Phenomenology
  • Adrienne Brown – The Architecture of Racial Phenomena
  • Charles L. Davis II – Blackness in Practice: Toward an Architectural Phenomenology of Blackness
  • Lisa Guenther – A Critical Phenomenology of Dwelling in Carceral Space
  • Bruce Janz – Awe, Wonder, and Creativity
  • Mark Jarzombeck – Husserl and The Problem of Worldiness
  • Caronline A. Jones – Phantom Limbs
  • Dorothee Legrand – At Home in the World? Suspending the Reduction
  • Rachel McCann – Breached Boundaries
  • Winifred E. Newman – Counter Re-formations of Embodiment
  • Ginger Nolan – Architecture’s Death Drive: The Primitive Hut Against History
  • Byran E. Norwood – Disorienting Phenomenology
  • Bryan E. Norwood & Jorge Otero-Pailos – An Interview with Jorge Otero-Pailos
  • Sun-Young Park – Designing for Disability in 19th-Century Paris
  • Benjamin M. Roth – The Abetment of Nihilism: Architectural Phenomenology’s Ethical Project
  • David Theodore – Turning Architecture Upside-Down: From Inigo Jones to Phenomenology
  • Dylan Trigg – A Prehistory of the Apartment

 

While historians have primarily focused on the tectonics and formal attributes of domestic structures of slaves, and the vernacular structures of black Americans have only recently gained attention, the spatial praxis of these environments holds clearer evidence of the cultural transference from Africa to America.

– Mario Gooden, Dark Space

During the mid-1990s, a small but dedicated cadre of African American architectural critics deployed the strategies of poststructuralist theory to locate the epistemological sources of blackness embedded within modern architectural debates. This branch of postmodern cultural theory – perhaps most visible in the essays published in the academic journal Append X – exposed the whiteness of the architectural autonomy debates and challenged the branding strategies of 1960s Afro-centric architecture for a broader range of design techniques. Despite these gains, however, this movement did not fully resolve the question of what material forms a distinctly African American architecture might take in the postwar period. Contemporary theories of architectural phenomenology offered some hope in the form of critical regionalism, but the unique social and cultural position of African Americans inherently challenged many of the critical assumptions that theorists such as Kenneth Frampton, Alexander Tzonis, and Liane Lefaivre used in their work. One major limitation is the cultural erasure caused by institutional slavery, which obscures the African tectonic traditions that accompanied slaves to the United States. This disruption of historical memory raises a number of questions regarding the black architect’s participation in critical regionalism. What types of vernacular building practices can African Americans levy today in light of the historical disruption of their memory of the past? And what moral implications exist for a black critical regionalist that unconsciously perpetuates the Western civilizational values that directly caused the historical enslavement of black peoples with his or her work? The existential character of an avant-garde paradigm of African American architecture solicits a closer examination of the role that the concept of blackness must play in reforming critical regionalism. As the philosopher Lewis Gordon notes, nearly every aspect of the black experience has been historically defined by a struggle to demonstrate the inherent worth of black life within a hegemonic culture of anti-blackness.[1] It stands to reason that the formulation of an avant-garde paradigm of African American architecture will be no different.

Using contemporary racial critiques of phenomenology as a guide, I argue that it has become possible to revise the general themes of critical regionalism to formulate an architectural phenomenology of blackness that explicitly concretizes the existential conditions that have defined the African American experience. This targeted form of architectural phenomenology replaces the black subject’s perceived lack of historical memory in critical regionalist terms with a record of the expressive and material cultures that have been generated since slavery to cope with the marginalization of black life. A racial critique of critical regionalism must begin with an acknowledgment of the conflicted civilizational status of African Americans in polemical modern architectural debates: they are permanently stuck between the primitive and modern categories reserved for subjects living in the modern world. Revising the vernacular requirements of critical regionalism also demands the production of a phenomenological interpretation of racial embodiment that challenges a universal conception of Being with a careful study of the spatial habituation of racial differences in the built environment. Finally, an architectural phenomenology of blackness necessitates the development of new strategies of spatial analysis, site study, and material practices that critique and subvert the representational signs of universal culture that sustain the dissemination of Eurocentric norms in the US and around the world. While it is impossible to outline every permutation of this critical revision of critical regionalism, this essay explores a range of approaches for putting blackness into practice.

Noah Purifoy_The Gallows

The Limits of Critical Regionalism

Critical regionalism was formulated in the 1980s as postmodern critics began to recognize the aesthetically homogenizing effects of globalization, with Frampton helping to shape this intellectual framework through nearly a decade of research into phenomenology. Essays such as “On Reading Heidegger” and “The Status of Man and the Status of His Objects: A Reading of The Human Condition” reveal Frampton’s phenomenological orientation toward architecture as a poetic expression of mankind’s existential condition. His work transforms Gottfried Semper’s ethnographic and historicist interpretation of tectonics into a vehicle for materially expressing the secular progression of human civilization.[2] Frampton’s 1983 essay “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance” became paradigmatic of his prescriptive approach to “secularizing,” or abstracting, the material practices of “world culture” in an effort to better align them with the prevailing material conditions of late capitalism, or what he termed “universal civilization.”[3] This approach was initially praised for enabling a synthetic integration of the material cultures of developing countries with the aesthetic traditions of high-modern architecture. The influence of Heidegger’s phenomenology, and especially his material emphasis on the poetics of Being, can be seen in Frampton’s focus on the use of building materials in highlighting the climatic conditions of local light and landscapes that condition the formation of vernacular building traditions. In theory, this emphasis maintains the social and cultural traditions of the past in the wake of a commodifying global economic culture.

Despite the redemptive tone of Frampton’s regionalist principles, he continues some of the chauvinisms found in turn-of-the-century modern architectural theory. For example, he continues to rely on the reductive binary division between primitive and modern peoples that modern architectural theorists canonized in the writings of the 1910s and ’20s. Furthermore, he intuits a conceptual parallel between Paul Ricoeur’s separation of world culture and universal civilization and the primitive-modern binary outlined by Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck, among others. Directly following his enumeration of Ricoeur’s theory, he cites van Eyck, who in 1902 wrote, “Western civilization habitually identifies itself with civilization as such on the pontifical assumption that what is not like it is a deviation, less advanced, primitive, or, at best, exotically interesting at a safe distance.”[4] This binary model of cultural genius does not offer a clear sense of where African Americans should be situated within critical regionalism. Because African Americans were not key players in the international architectural avant-garde operating during the 1910s and ’20s, it is difficult to characterize them as modern in any notable architectural sense.[5] Yet these black subjects were also robbed by institutional slavery of any direct knowledge of the cultural heritage resources that Frampton requires for envisioning a synthetic regionalist style of modern architecture in the present.

The binary structure of Frampton’s model of architectural culture is crucial to his aesthetic technique of secularizing the mythical content of vernacular cultures. This strategy has come under fire for permanently consigning primitive cultures to be subordinated to modern cultures by instrumentalizing their perceived organic content to reinvigorate the enfeebled rational traditions of European modernity. Alexander Tzonis and Liane Lefaivre have opposed Frampton’s theory from a postcolonial perspective, rejecting his implicit support of a European or Euro-American led avant-garde for subaltern global architectural practices.[6] They have revised critical regionalism by considering the subaltern subject as the lead author of architectural design in developing countries, thus privileging the mythical content of vernacular cultures for establishing new forms of architectural modernisms around the world. This shift away from secular Western values resulted in the diversification of modern architecture’s civilizational imperatives, which is evident in the expanding historiography of modernism in Latin America, the tropicalism of postcolonial Indian and African architecture, and other revisionist traditions of modern architecture.

Noah Purifoy__Joshua Tree Desert Art.jpg

The Whiteness of Architectural Phenomenology

The postwar traditions of African American philosophy and black existential philosophy have outlined the philosophical implications of blackness on African American life, paving the way for contemporary research into the phenomenology of whiteness as a hegemonic force in American culture. In 1978, Cornel West outlined the principles of an African American philosophy using the writings of several philosophers to make his case, including Heidegger’s phenomenological examination of Dasein, or Being-in-the-world.[7] Heidegger is an exemplar of West’s argument for several reasons. First, he insists that philosophers must move past the positivist assumptions of the analytic tradition to challenge its autonomy from everyday experience. In addition, Heidegger’s refinement of philosophical hermeneutics challenges the notion that one can have a fixed understanding of history, or a final truth that transcends individual interpretation. Instead, Heidegger began to recognize the influence of historical factors on individual self-formation in the process of interpretation. Yet West critiques Heidegger for not going far enough: his three-fold categorization of the historical conditioning of the self – through the forces of fate, destiny, and heritage – ignore certain critical factors affecting the lives of African Americans: “Yet, as the young Marcuse noted, these categories ignore crucial historical forces e.g. social position within the mode of production, racist and sexist constraints, that significantly shape and mold the kind of choices available to people.

Heidegger overlooks these vital historical forces because he views history in personal terms, as mere ‘stretchedness’ (Erstrecktheit) extending through time. This conception of history neglects the social and political relations between people; it ignores their communal life, past and present.”[8]

According to West, Heidegger’s extraordinary focus on the existential isolation of man in the universe led him to endorse an extreme type of individualism that requires the subject to withdraw from his community in order to reason and establish an authentic orientation for the self. The same is true of the existentialist tradition within African American culture, especially literature, which is associated with the literary figures of Sutton Griggs, Charles Chesnutt, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Gayl Jones, and Toni Morrison. West makes an appeal to continue beyond this existentialist urge toward a humanist Afro-American philosophy that combines existential self-reflection with positive political change.[9] These broader social values continue to provide clues for wayfinding that delimit individual choice in significant ways. This lesson is very important for an architectural phenomenology of blackness because it challenges its proponents to begin with a critique of the effects of blackness, but ultimately move beyond this position to pragmatically invest in types of architectural programs that will enhance the lived conditions of African Americans.

Lewis Gordon’s study of African American existential philosophy is founded upon a clear distinction between the ideology of race as blackness and the lived experiences of racialized groups. In his essay “African-American Existential Philosophy,” he separates the lived experiences of the African diaspora, which constitute the basis of culture, from blackness, which, as a conceptual term of Enlightenment aesthetic theory, is for him an abstract category of knowledge used for the purposes of representation.[10] Gordon’s perspective is implicitly challenged by recent scholarship on the phenomenology of whiteness that examines the embodied habits we inherit in social groups, which provides an epistemological basis for understanding racial differences in the world; as a social construct, race is therefore grounded in the lived experiences of social groups, not in a positivist epistemology of knowledge. Two of the most cogent theories of the phenomenology of racial embodiment include Linda Alcoff’s The Future of Whiteness (2015) and Sara Ahmed’s “A Phenomenology of Whiteness” (2007). Alcoff’s and Ahmed’s research suggest that race is only understandable because of its effects on one’s experiences in the world. Their work provides an alternative explanation for Heidegger’s ability to experience a greater sense of isolation from the world than his peers: his experience was only possible because he enjoyed the elevated social position of white elites who had unfettered access to all forms of space – even territories that were segregated for or inhabited by women and people of color.

In The Future of Whiteness, Alcoff attempts to recalibrate the types of collective life-worlds or horizons by which individuals form independent notions of themselves and learn to orient themselves ontologically in the world. Instead of placing a person’s racial or ethnic heritage in the background of their experiences in order to examine a philosophically pure notion of phenomena – as is common in Heideggerian approaches – Alcoff explores the preconscious influence of the racial codes we inherit from our affiliations with social groups in the form of ritualized patterns of spatial embodiment. She defines whiteness as a particular form of social identity that is predicated on three interrelated phenomena:When we talk about identities of any sort, we may be talking about three related but distinct kinds of things. . . . We can regard these as three distinctive aspects of a social identity: (1) its empirical status, or the ways in which an identity can be objectively located, measured, and traced out historically in time and space; (2) its imaginary status, or the ways in which it constitutes a shared social imaginary that organizes and prescribes normative or acceptable lifestyles, both for the in-group as well as for outsiders; and (3) its subject-formation, or the constitution of individual subjects with particular ways of experiencing and perceiving as well as interacting with the social and natural environment.”[11] While the “empirical” and “imaginary” dimensions of whiteness initially seem to be purely ideological and therefore extraneous to individual experiences, the temporal maintenance of these systems over time and the ways in which they frame individual subject-formations demonstrate the precognitive effects of these factors “beyond individual control.”[12] The physical and ontological effects of race are most clear in Alcoff’s description of the experience of living “inside of white identities” as the result of accruing a set of “unconscious and seductive habits” that transform white subjects into vessels for racialized habits that do not require a conscious recognition of the historical origins of these practices in order to shape our experience.[13]

Alcoff’s philosophical outline of the embodied states of whiteness enables us to explicitly critique architectural phenomenologist’s epistemological assumptions that a universal, immediate, and transparent appreciation of the atmospheric conditions of climate or the thick materiality of a building project is made possible by the philosopher’s internalization of the rigorous techniques of phenomenological observation. Alcoff’s proposition is especially that the bodily practices of racial embodiment are inherited, and thus precognitive, which places the perceptual implications of these inherited codes squarely within the heart of phenomenology, and by extension architectural phenomenology. If one examines such claims of universalism through the lens of the embodied racial codes we inherit, then it is possible to account for the phenomenological architect’s unfettered access to his or her surroundings as a latent symptom of the racial privileges of whiteness that remain embodied in ritualized notions of space. This interpretation is an explicit indictment of the Eurocentric character of architectural phenomenology and reveals the civilizational motives associated with architectural theorists’ conception of the Greek and Roman concepts of techne as universally applicable.[14] The long-term legacies of racial embodiment become especially clear when elite European and Euro-American designers and theorists describe their inhabitation (in the Heideggerian sense) of spaces traditionally created by and reserved for women and people of color. An example of this can be found in Frampton’s critical assumption that the material elements of “world culture” are immediately accessible to him and other Euro-American designers by the visual analysis and formal abstraction of material conditions.[15] Yet these same vernacular forms need to be secularized by all architectural designers – both in-group and out-group members – in order to ensure that their symbols operate properly on the global stage. That is to say, world cultures are commodified in order to lubricate the process of global cultural exchange. Only those subjects who can replicate the racial embodiment practices of historical elites – regardless of their conscious commitments to the ideology of whiteness or white supremacy – can truly experience the unfettered and idealized psychological access to the space described in the theoretical writings of architectural phenomenology.

Noah Purifoy_Shelter

Putting Blackness into Practice

In order to develop an architectural phenomenology of blackness, we must reject postmodern claims of a universal conception of phenomenal experience. Recent racial critiques of phenomenology enable us to recognize such claims as a categorical error that mistakes the spatial conditions specific to a phenomenology of whiteness for a normative condition of Being-in-the-world. Alcoff’s account of racial embodiment implicitly reveals the latent political commitments of architectural phenomenology embodied in a proponent’s commitment to “the things themselves,” which refer to the undetectable things in architectural discourses because of a disciplinary insistence on alienating these objects of study from their social and political contexts.[16] The enduring patterns of racial segregation evident in the American landscape, the double consciousness that results from an internalization of white social norms, and other lingering symptoms of the racial embodiment of modern architectural spaces all demonstrate the materiality of race in contemporary life.

It only takes the contemplation of some discreet physical situations to give us a visceral sense of the architectural implications of the racial embodiment of space. For example, the architect and urban designer immediately recognize the relational and temporal character of racial embodiment when they contemplate the ways that historical patterns of racial segregation continue to fragment the urban, suburban, and rural landscapes they inherit. We might also imagine a set of quotidian reactions by white and black subjects visiting the beautifully preserved landscape of Thomas Jefferson’s plantation Monticello. If the empty hallways of the house and its restored interiors initially enable both types of visitors to engage in a disinterested appreciation of the Roman architectural motifs revealed by the light piercing through the sunburst windows of the Entrance Hall, or to intuit the spatial logic of Jefferson’s Palladian integration of the servant quarters below grade to match the level of the surrounding grounds, the racial character of this spatial segregation becomes evident once a costumed slave emerges from the servants’ corridor as the daily tour guide. Yet, one may ask, what is the source of this racial charge? Is there a latent cause lingering beneath each visitor’s sense of shame or anger that was present, but somehow removed, when there was no human referent in view? The reason is not the result of any visitor’s immediate connection to slavery: all of the people who owned slaves are now dead, so no white visitors to Monticello are likely to have their own retinue of slaves at home. Nor will any of the black visitors to Monticello be able to say that they are forced to serve as slaves on an existing plantation. No, this feeling is instead the result of the striking similarities that exist between the privileged white spaces and servile black spaces of yesterday and today – a feeling of déjà vu that seems eerily familiar to the racial embodiments of the past. In this sense, one does not need a detailed historical description of the pains and injustices of slavery in order to empathize with the plight of the slave; the spatial practices that were embodied by the practices of antebellum slavery still persist. They are embodied in the contemporary patterns of racial segregation, microaggressions, coded political language, mass incarceration, and other customs that continue this legacy. Implicit in this indictment is the recognition that someone, somewhere, many years from now, will eventually judge us just as harshly as we do Jefferson for his hypocritical attitudes toward the slave labor that made his lifestyle of leisure possible. It is our daily collusion with racialized systems of embodiment that elicits our current sense of shame, our anger, or perhaps both emotions at the same time.

The writings of black existential philosophers such as Frantz Fanon are essential tools for opening up new directions for African American contemporary architectural practice, as these scholars have prepared us to recognize the binary structures of Enlightenment aesthetics that have categorically stereotyped white and black subjectivities – coincidentally, during the very generation when the Museum of Modern Art first polemicized the International Style as a universal mode of design.[17] Black existential philosophers have also prepared us to identify the new organic relationships that African Americans have established between the black body and material culture in the West by formalizing the ontological realities of the African American experience. When one looks at the forms of expressive and material culture most associated with black Americans raised up from slavery – namely, their food, clothing, grooming, language, music, dance, and even sport – many of them are ontologically related to the manipulation of the black body in space. Recent literatures on the phenomenology of whiteness help us to better articulate the embodied forms of racial differences that are inherited through the body and its movement in the built environment, in the forms of racialized modes of inhabitation, and the rituals of difference that are reenacted in our segregated landscape. This process of recognition, in both the juridical terms established by critical race theory and the philosophical terms outlined by black existentialist philosophers, recovers the racialized subject’s participation in modernity through the historical struggle to assert their inherent Dasein, or Being, and their related potential for autonomy, self-possession, and political agency. It is only by recovering and historicizing blackness that we can provide black subjects with the cultural resources necessary to engage in significant architectural design.

In an architectural sense, a renewed focus on black bodies and the spatial protocols they create displaces the representational function of the tectonic details of architectural history, thus enabling this process to start anew in the present. In the Greco-Roman model of techne that Frampton popularized in the 1980s and ’90s, and which was also the basis of the ethnographic model of architectural style innovated by Semper in the 19th century, tectonic details functioned primarily to preserve the historical memory of vernacular practices in the present. It was through the revival and revision of these ornamental forms that architectural evolution persisted through cultural history. However, Semper’s theory of style fails to account for the fact that tectonic reinvention has been sustained throughout the history of Western civilization by parallel processes of cultural preservation and cultural erasure; this fact becomes plainly evident when one considers the history of the African American experience. Initially, this process of erasure only targeted the cultural idioms that directly competed with the Greco-Roman model of Western civilization, but by the late 20th century it had expanded to claim even those historical forms that were deemed central tools for disseminating Western ideas in colonial times. In an ironic twist, Frampton was forced to learn the lessons of erasure that African Americans have known since the founding of the United States; his lament over the progressive loss of the artist-architect’s ability to create culture is further evidence of the glaring omission of the critical role of blackness in postmodern architecture theory. To extend Frampton’s regionalist theory in a new direction, African American architects must replace the critical function of tectonic detailing in critical regionalism with a renewed emphasis on the spatial protocols behind the practical arts and material culture that African Americans have generated in the wake of slavery.

Architectural critics first began to recognize the genius of African American material culture by engaging with poststructuralist modes of literary criticism in the early 1990s.[18] These lessons, however, have never been applied to a strictly phenomenological account of black ontology. Mario Gooden’s Dark Space comes closest to inaugurating a purely spatial consideration of the African American experience that does not generate designs by commodifying the exotic ornamental motifs of black art as an aesthetic treatment of a building’s facade or as a formal parti.[19] One of the most important discursive functions of elevating the spatial protocols of blackness is the elision of the Western architect’s reliance on visual racial codes, from the colonial politics that subtended 19th-century tectonic discourses to the racialized forms of labor that are used to construct the built environment. In addition, producing a spatial analysis of racial embodiment transforms the analytical value of junkspace – the banal urban spaces Rem Koolhaas attributes to the marketing strategies of commercial building developers – into some of the best material contexts for indexing the black experience in the United States. Recent studies of the spatial complexity of informal spaces, including black neighborhoods in America, reveal an incredible diversity of programming within these seemingly mundane and outdated districts of the city. While both Koolhaas and Frampton were satisfied with critiquing the structural rules that generated the banal character of global cities, a more principled focus on the racial politics regulating who inherits these spaces once they are deemed outdated and obsolete might bring new life to black urban space.

At the moment, the racial dynamics of inhabiting junkspace have been completely ignored by most postmodern theorists. My intervention here is to make the racial dynamics of Koolhaas’s junkspace and Frampton’s critical regionalism visible by creating a physical trace for the spatial protocols black residents introduce to these spaces. Even in the poorest and most racially segregated districts of the city, the most obsolete and neglected urban spaces contribute to the capitalization of space: a slumlord can amass as much wealth by increasing rents and avoiding capital improvements as a developer can by constructing a parking lot or changing land-use law to establish a higher and better use for long vacant land. The creative act of cataloguing the spatial segregation of urban spaces enlists the architect in a critical project of revealing the social and economic mechanisms that continue to exploit black life. Like the conceptual artist Noah Purifoy’s aestheticization of the literal junk of modern industrialism, or Teddy Cruz’s and Alejandro Aravena’s conceptualizations of the informal processes of Hispanic urbanization abroad, an architectural phenomenology of blackness materializes the countercultural spatial practices of junkspace without whitewashing the material conditions of black survival. [20] Rather than insisting on the monumentalization of black aesthetic practices, as critical regionalism requires, we should instead expose the undersides of global capitalism in order to re-present the latent potentials of black space to the world. Such a material practice directly challenges Frampton’s implicit elevation of an Enlightenment conception of beauty as the endpoint of monumental architecture, as well as his dire estimation of the reflective capacity for life that is possible within such spaces. Since much of black life has always had to “make do” with what was left over by industrial modernism, a black existential orientation toward architectural practice might resuscitate the strategic value of populations so often overlooked by postmodern theorists who struggle to maintain the pan-European character of Western architecture in an increasingly global society.

Noah Purifoy_Assemblage Structure.jpg

[1] Lewis R. Gordon, “African-American Existential Philosophy,” in A Companion to African-American Philosophy, ed. Tommy L. Lott and John P. Pittman (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2006), 33–47.

[2] See Kenneth Frampton, “On Reading Heidegger,” in Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965–1995, ed. Kate Nesbitt (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), 442–46; and “The Status of Man and the Status of His Objects: A Reading of The Human Condition,” in Architecture Theory Since 1968, ed. K. Michael Hays (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000), 362–77.

[3] Kenneth Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance,” in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Port Townsend, WA: Bay Press, 1983), 16–30.

[4] Ibid., 22 (citing van Eyck).

[5] Le Corbusier praised the modernity of American jazz music in his book When the Cathedrals Were White (London: Routledge, 1948), but he considered “Negroes” themselves to be permanently subject to the predilections of their primitive cultural status. See Mabel Wilson, “Black Bodies/White Cities: Le Corbusier in Harlem,” ANY: Architecture New York 16 (1996): 35–39; and Darell Wayne Fields, Architecture in Black: Theory, Space and Appearance (London: The Athlone Press, 2000), 5–7.

[6] Liane Lefaivre and Alexander Tzonis, “The Suppression and Rethinking of Regionalism and Tropicalism after 1945,” in Tropical Architecture: Critical Regionalism in the Age of Globalization, ed. Alexander Tzonis, Liane Lafaivre, and Bruno Stagno (London: Wiley-Academy, 2001), 14–58.

[7] Cornel West, “Philosophy and the Afro-American Experience,” in A Companion to African-American Philosophy, 8–32.

[8] Ibid., 9.

[9] Ibid., 24–27.

[10] Lewis R. Gordon, “African-American Existential Philosophy,” in A Companion to African-American Philosophy, 33.

[11] Linda Martín Alcoff, The Future of Whiteness (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2015), 74. Emphasis mine.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid., 84–85.

[14] This line of argument is evident in the writings of Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Juhani Pallasmaa, and Dalibor Vesely. See, for example, Dalibor Vesely, Architecture in the Age of Divided Representation (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 281–316.

[15] Frampton, “Towards a Critical Regionalism,” 24–30.

[16] Alcoff does not go so far as to interpret the political commitments of Heidegger’s phenomenological theory, but her approach does seem to establish a philosophical rationale for the political motivations of European philosophers. If her racial critique of space identifies a deeper symptom of the historical privileges of elite white subjects, it might offer the grounds for establishing a fuller critique of Heidegger’s Nazism.

[17] See Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1932).

[18] Boundless examples of this type of theory can be found in the short-lived journal Append X, published by the Harvard Graduate School of Design in the 1990s. Milton Curry, Nathaniel Belcher, Kevin Fuller, and Darell Fields regularly published essays on this topic in the journal’s three issues. See also Harry Francis Mallgrave and David Goodman, An Introduction to Architectural Theory: 1968 to the Present (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011).

[19] See Mario Gooden, Dark Space: Architecture, Representation, Black Identity (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2016). Gooden’s spatial theory of architectural design does not explicitly incorporate architectural phenomenology.

[20] I thank Lisa Uddin for sharing her work on Noah Purifoy’s artistic practice of recycling garbage in communities of color.

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