Spaces of History / Histories of Space (April 2010, Berkeley)

Spaces of History / Histories of Space: Emerging Approaches to the Study of the Built Environment
A Conference at the University of California at Berkeley on April 30, 2010
Deadline for submission: January 8, 2010

Looking to survey and assess new approaches and analytical tools for studying the history of built spaces across a variety of scales and geographies, this conference will explore a range of questions pertaining to theory, methodology and pedagogy. How has the “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences transformed the ways in which history of the built environment is theorized and researched? How should we study a historical moment when certain types of evidence redominate?

In the past three decades, a growing number of scholars in the humanities and social sciences have turned their attention to space and to the built environment as a means of understanding historical processes. The writings of Lefebvre, Foucault, Gregory, Harvey, Soja, Latour and others have significantly reshaped the intellectual landscape across academic fields. Meanwhile, the subject matter and research methods of the history of architecture, landscapes and planning have become increasingly open to reassessment.

What are the potentials and biases in the use of particular research techniques and narrative forms? To what extent are these choices shaped by disciplinary knowledge? How might such interrogations help us conceive new pedagogies for design and planning?

The conference is expected to attract a diverse group of scholars interested in interdisciplinary research on the history of the built environment. Participation from graduate students and early career academics is especially welcome. Participants will present papers related to one of the following two tracks:

1. Interrogating Theories and Methodologies

Papers in this track will explore how built spaces have been integrated into historical research in a variety of disciplines, or discuss the use of particular theoretical formulations that have become influential in studying the history of the built environment. We are especially interested in work that assesses the potentials and limits of research methods, such as ethnography and oral history, as well as the use of various types of archival evidence.

2. History as Pedagogy: Teaching and Practice

Papers in this track will examine pedagogical approaches to history in design education and their implications for the making of the built environment, including professional practice. Topics of interest include the use of history as precedent, the construction of a survey course, the relationship between history teaching and the design studio, and other interdisciplinary approaches to historical research such as experimental art practice and other creative mediums.

As part of the activities of this conference, we will be holding a special poster exhibition that explores the relationship between historical thinking and the making of the built environment. This exhibition especially welcomes the participation of graduate students in professional programs as well as advanced undergraduate students. For submission guidelines for posters, please refer to the forthcoming conference website at Applicants should submit a 250-word abstract and a short CV in Word format to and to by January 8, 2010. Accepted participants will be notified by February 5, 2010. Authors of accepted proposals should submit a completed paper of no more than 10 pages that summarizes the main points of the presentation by April 2, 2010.

This conference is organized by graduate students Tiago Castela, Cecilia Chu, Clare Robinson, Yael Allweil and Huey Ying Hsu.

The event is jointly sponsored by the Draper Architectural History Research Endowment of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at UC Berkeley. For additional information about the conference, please contact the organizers, or visit the conference website.


About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

2 Responses to Spaces of History / Histories of Space (April 2010, Berkeley)

  1. Fang Xu says:

    Please send me the news about this conference.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: