Architecture is sensitive to social change, particularly when that change is in the foundational norms and myths upon which our society is constructed. Perhaps most notably, historic and ongoing shifts in ideas of the family and of its importance as a basic social unit can be read through many scales of architecture, from the house to the city. An Extended Family live online lecture series presents historic case studies and moments of key changes in ideas of the family, in relation to emerging types and understandings of families that influence and are expressed in architecture today.
If we consider gestation as a collective form of labour what could it mean for how we imagine architecture? We might start with proposals for “kitchenless” urbanism created by utopian feminists. For example, American urban historian and poet Dolores Hayden argues that kitchens imprison human beings, particularly women and children, in the private sphere. Or we could consider the uncannily birth-like and anti-kitchen architecture of Alice in Wonderland (as illustrated by John Tenniel in 1865) as a clue to how communal food preparation and feeding—kitchenlessness—might transform and de-privatize “the gestational workplace” at different scales, including the uterus, the nuclear household, the surrogacy clinic/dormitory, and the Earth.
Sophie Lewis is a feminist theorist, cultural critic and utopianist, and the author of Full Surrogacy Now: Feminism Against Family (2019) as well as articles and essays including, My Octopus Girlfriend (n+1) and How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans (The New York Times). Though she left academia in 2017 she is currently a Visiting scholar at The Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women at the University of Pennsylvania, and she teaches courses online (open to all) at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.
The event is free and open to the public. To register, click here.
This series is part of the CCA’s one-year investigation Catching Up with Life.
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