AIAS Spring 2017 Symposium and Lecture Series
Bowling Green State University
Place Acts: The Making of our Everyday World
The architecture of immigrants has always animated American cosmopolitan imagination. During the first half of the twentieth century, fears of unassimilated or racially unassimilable” hordes dominated popular perceptions of segregated neighborhoods that housed newly arrived ethnic and racial minorities. Today, cities proudly tout their Little Villages and Chinatowns as tourist destinations even while the fear of the unknown other still resonates popular attitudes towards minorities. The world of contemporary immigrants in the United States has changed physically, socially and demographically. Immigrant worlds are no longer trapped in ethnic neighborhoods – they have arrived next door to all of us, in urban enclaves and downtown apartments as well as in suburban strip malls and gated communities. This new world delineates a community without propinquity. It urges a shift in our methodological focus towards how we read and interpret architectural spaces. My talk will examine how place-based storytelling — also called spatial ethnography — can help us better understand the complexities of contemporary architecture.