On Collaborations: Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration

Delhi-based puppet theater company Katkatha, in a workshop with university students from Jamia Millia Islamia and children from the community. These collaborations shaped spaces of protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India. Photo taken with the consent of those pictured and the caregivers of the children, provided courtesy of Anurupa Roy and Katkatha, www.katkatha.org.

The essays in “Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration” build on two arguments: first, that the dynamic of a situated and re-situated perspective is foundational to feminist histories of architecture, and second, that feminist approaches destabilize presumptions of historical fixity. Narratives, perspectives, and practices based on these arguments have emerged from acts and experiences of migration performed individually or collectively, moving into and out of geographies of control and subjugation, beyond gender or gender framings, across lifeworlds. Writing feminist architectural histories of migration demands the recovery of hidden figures and clandestine spaces. It calls for seeing the bodies of laborers within the grid of authorship, acknowledging the spatial practices of occupation by activists or prisoners, engaging the obscured work of teachers, researchers, and writers, studying material environments built by migrants, and naming homemakers and others whose designated use of architecture endowed it.

Migration and mobility, as well as their converse conditions of restriction and confinement, call for collaborations. In the segment of “Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration,” which will be published here in Aggregate, we ask how such collaborations created, unsettled, and enacted forms of power through enclosure, solidarity, labor, exile, embodiment, and care. Authors engage in collaborative methods, following migrants and engaging in physical and conceptual migrations. These movements acknowledge architecture only as a work by many hands, and its historical recovery only as a process of collaboration, material and theoretical.

Three open-access platforms host this essay collection: Architecture Beyond Europe, Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Aggregate where we examine migration, respectively, through “margins”, “diffractions” and “collaborations.” We have placed texts within three platforms as a gesture to the conceptual multiplicities of migration; this scaffold is intended to establish instabilities and shifting frameworks as the base theoretical principle, which, perhaps paradoxically, offers a different kind of anchoring.