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09.28.21 Arturo Escobar ft. WAI Think Tank: Pluriversal Designing and the Re-Earthing of Cities



Published
This talk is a provisional exploration of the implications of the insights from ontological and pluriversal designing to urban spaces. It outlines the notion of re-earthing cities from the perspective of the multiplicity of others, human and not, that inhabit them, through strategies for the recommunalization, relocalization, and decolonization of urban social life.

The talk will be accompanied by visuals directed by WAI Think Tank and followed by a public discussion moderated by Nora Akawi.

Arturo Escobar is an activist-researcher from Cali, Colombia, working on territorial struggles against extractivism, postdevelopmentalist and post-capitalist transitions, and ontological design. He was professor of anthropology and political ecology at UNC, Chapel Hill, until 2018, and is currently affiliated with PhD Programs in Design and Creation (Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Colombia) and in Environmental Sciences (Universidad del Valle, Cali). Over the past thirty years, he has worked closely with Afro-descendant, environmental and feminist organizations in Colombia. His most well-known book is Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (1995, 2nd Ed. 2011). His most recent books are: Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds (2018); Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible (2020); and Designing Relationally: Making and Restor(y)ing Life, with Michal Osterweil and Kriti Sharma (forthcoming).


WAI Architecture Think Tank is a planetary studio practicing by questioning the political, historical, and material legacy and imperatives of architecture and urbanism. Founded in Brussels during the financial crisis of 2008 by Puerto Rican architect, artist, curator, educator, author and theorist Cruz Garcia and French architect, artist, curator, educator, author and poet Nathalie Frankowski, WAI is one of their several platforms of public engagement that include Beijing-based anti-profit art space Intelligentsia Gallery, and the free and alternative education platform and trade-school Loudreaders. Based on the emancipating and persecuted alternative practice of education performed by lectores like Luisa Capetillo in the tobacco factories in the Caribbean, Loudreaders is an open pedagogical platform and free trade school that engages with architectural education as a form of mutual aid and critical solidarity in the age of Covid-19. Garcia and Frankowski are Associate Professors at Iowa State University.

Nora Akawi is Assistant Professor of Architecture at The Cooper Union. Her research and teaching lie at the intersections of displacement, erasure, and memory with architecture—drawing from migration and border studies, mapping practices, and archive theory. Prior to joining The Cooper Union, Nora taught at Columbia University’s GSAPP, where she was director of Studio-X Amman. Most recently, Nora curated Al Majhoola Min Al-Ard (This Land’s Unknown) at the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans 2019, and co-curated Friday Sermon, the Bahrain Pavilion exhibition in the Biennale Architettura 2018 in Venice. She co-edited the books Friday: An Assembly (2018) and Architecture and Representation: The Arab City (2016). Recent publications include “Mapping Borderlands: Drawing From the Jawlan” in GTA Papers 2: War Zones (ETH Zürich, 2019), and “Worlding From the South” in Manifesta 12: Palermo Atlas, (OMA / Humboldt Books, 2018).
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