University at Buffalo SUNY to Host ‘Whiteness of American Architecture’ Symposium

The Empire State BuildininNew York, opened in May 1931, stands at 443 metres (1,454 feet) high and was once the world's tallest building
Kena Betancur/AFP

The University at Buffalo, SUNY is hosting a symposium in April called the “The Whiteness of American Architecture” for the purpose of discussing “a critical history of the white cultural nationalisms” and “the renewed sense of white nativism and the rise of white nationalist groups” now that President Donald Trump has been elected.

“The Whiteness of American Architecture” symposium is being organized by the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and is described as “an outgrowth” of the “Race + Modern Architecture Project.”

The Race + Modern Architecture Project refers to “an interdisciplinary workshop on the racial discourses of western architectural history.”

The “purpose and theme” of the symposium will be to discuss “a critical history of the white cultural nationalisms that have proliferated under the rubric of ‘American Architecture’ during the long nineteenth century,” according to the event description.

“In the past, architectural historians have optimistically, and perhaps anachronistically, interpreted American architectural movements through the lens of an inclusive American liberalism that embraces people of all colors, nationalities and religious creeds,” continued the description.

“Yet such an understanding fails to examine these national movements from the lens of white settler colonialism and the exclusive cultural nationalist ideologies that were often intimated by their appropriation for various political purposes.”

The symposium description went on to argue that a discussion on the whiteness in architecture is important today, especially due to “recent events in American politics.”

“The renewed sense of white nativism and the rise of white nationalist groups that have emerged in the wake of the election of Donald Trump in 2016 are only the most obvious symptoms of a more fundamental debate.”

The University of Buffalo, SUNY is not the only school hosting events discussing the bizarre topic of alleged “whiteness” in architecture. Cooper Union, a private college in New York City, hosted a lecture in January entitled, “The Space of Appearance: Infrastructures of Whiteness.”

Similarly, the prestigious New York college hosted an event that strangely attempted to conflate “white supremacy” with infrastructure.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.


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