The Settler Colonial Present

Architecture, with its deep implications in property and capital derived from settler colonial processes, condenses the tensions, contradictions, disavowals, and betrayals of settler colonialism. And yet, discourse on settler colonialism has been largely absent from the architectural discipline. This absence is productive in settler colonial contexts—it allows the discipline to most effectively serve the interests of capital and its emissaries. Indeed, in its hegemonic professional and pedagogic forms, architecture was and remains a product, instrument, and memorial of settler colonialism. Attempts to “decolonize the curriculum” that omit these constitutive relations are complicit with them.

Nick Axel
Andrew Herscher
Nikolaus Hirsch
Ana María León

The Settler Colonial Present is funded by the Department of the History of Art and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan.

Anita Bakshi

Anita Bakshi is the author of Topographies of Memories: A New Poetics of Commemoration (2017). Following several years in architectural practice she received her PhD in the History and Theory of Architecture from Cambridge University with the Conflict in Cities Research Programme. She now teaches at Rutgers University, Department of Landscape Architecture. Her most recent publication is Our Land, Our Stories.

Rozalinda Borcilă

Rozalinda Borcilă is a Romanian artist living in occupied Nishnabek lands currently known as Chicago. She teaches in art spaces, universities, social centers, squats, refugee camps and in the streets.

Andrea Carlson

Andrea Carlson is an Ojibwe artist who resides in the unceded Potawatomi coast of Chicago. She was a 2008 McKnight Fellow and a 2017 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors grant recipient.

Andrew Herscher

Andrew Herscher endeavors to bring the study of architecture and cities to bear on struggles for rights, democracy, and justice across a range of global sites. He teaches at the University of Michigan and has co-founded a series of militant research collaboratives including the We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective, Decolonizing Pedagogies Workshop, and the Settler Colonial City Project.

Eliseo Huencho

Eliseo Huencho (Mapuche) is an architect with a diploma from the Universidad de Chile (1996), with a Master in Local and Regional Human Development at the Universidad de la Frontera. He works at the Department of Architecture, Ministry of Public Works, Chile.

Ana María León

Ana María León works on spatial practices of power and resistance as they inform the modernity of the American continent and its global reach. León teaches at the University of Michigan and is co-founder of several collaborations laboring to broaden the reach of architectural history including Decolonizing Pedagogies Workshop, Nuestro Norte es el Sur, and the Settler Colonial City Project.

Paulo Tavares

Paulo Tavares is an architect, professor at the public University of Brasilia, and the author of Des-Habitat (K. Verlag, 2019), an essay on colonialism in modernist architecture. He was co-curator of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

K. Wayne Yang

K. Wayne Yang is provost of John Muir College and professor in UC San Diego's Ethnic Studies department. He is the author of A Third University is Possible (2017, as la paperson). He writes about decolonization and everyday epic organizing, often with his frequent collaborator, Eve Tuck. Currently, they are convening The Land Relationships Super Collective with several Indigenous and non-Indigenous community organizations engaged in land-based projects. 

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