ABSTRACTS

  • A Pilot Study of Household Food Security and Domestic Roles Among Migrant Farmers in Delhi, India
    Jessica COOK, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas is increasing dramatically; much of it in the developing world, spurred by rural-urban migration trends. Cities, already overburdened by insufficient infrastructure, find it difficult to meet basic needs of growing populations. Poor migrants, who often pursue employment as construction or domestic laborers, are at risk for food insecurity and discrimination. For migrants who are farmers in their rural homelands, urban agriculture is an attractive livelihood option because of easy transfer of skills and knowledge and increasing market demand due to gaps in the urban food system. Beyond income-generation, does urban farming provide migrants other protections as they transition to the urban environment? The aim of this research was to explore household food security and domestic roles among migrant urban farmers in Delhi. This study was a small pilot study conducted as part of a larger research project. Using ethnographic methods, we interviewed a sample of 10 households in June 2014. Topics included: division of labor, wage equity, household/livelihood decision-making, household food consumption patterns, and household food security. Findings illustrate how women’s roles within the household and household food security were improved through urban migration; however, some inequities persisted.

 

  • Humanitarian Homemaker, Emergency Subject
    Anooradha Iyer SIDDIQI, New York University/ Harvard University, USA

This paper positions emergency subjects as architects and architecture as a social and political substrate for new histories. I follow Somali women in the Dadaab refugee settlements established during the state collapse of Somalia, whose domestic practices ranged from caretaking tasks to design and construction, between 1991 and 2011. By tracing the practices and forms—or more precisely, the labor and signification—of work they performed individually, in solidarity, and in incorporated groups, I examine a transformation from domestic homemaker to political subject, which, within the context of emergency, has much to reveal: about gendered building practice, the architectural production of borders, the construction of Somali and Muslim selves. Approaching the historical and historiographical problem of “homemaking” from the spatial and temporal rubric of emergency foregrounds the dialectical constancy of political and environmental catastrophe and its reproduction of crisis; at once, it engages a designated global relief regime (which enacts forms of governance) and occasions forms of resistance (through the act and architecture of homemaking), seen through scales of domesticity, in the shelter, the dwelling, the public kitchen, the camp. Setting such vignettes into a history of development aid discourses and practices, I seek to bring into view the construction of the emergency subject.

 

  • Space from the Inside: Cinematic Framing of Interiority
    Simone CHUNG, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Set and filmed in real locations around Tokyo and Paris respectively, Café Lumière (2003) and Flight of the Red Balloon (2007) by Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien each portray intimate portraits of the personal lives and struggles of its female protagonists. Translating real space to screen relies on the consecutive filters of spatial and screen languages, constructed out of the unconscious knowledge we universally possess. Through narrative structure, textures of the environment are not only incorporated into the mise-en-scene, but the actions of people and their practices are also framed in space and time. Thus the materiality of everyday experience brings to the fore the organising principles behind the two featured domestic habitus. Engaging the somatic sense of touch that involve felt contact and movement, viewers gain an intimate sense of spatiality through the film characters’ physical and emotional habitation: they grasp (through embodied subjectivity) nuances in behaviour and movements that inform and are informed by habits and normative interactions. This comparative reading proves that it is possible to acquire insights into the particularities of interior spaces in films without having access to the sites themselves. Furthermore, the peripatetic tangent of these film projects question notions of identity, home and belonging that haunt transnational diaspora in this era of global mobility.

 

  • Performative Domesticities:  The Performance of Conversion Among Filipino Domestic Workers
    Teresita CRUZ-DEL ROSARIO, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The marked absence of the emotional aspect of migrant workers’ lives in global labor market studies is the subject of my research interest. I focus on Filipino domestic workers in Singapore and Brunei. I discuss “intimacy regimes” and argue that due to excessive regulation and policing in both countries, domestic workers resort to strategies that allow them to navigate “zones of intimacy” that cannot be patrolled by the state. One strategy is that of conversion to Islam which allows liaisons among migrant workers of different faiths. Because prevailing regulations in both countries disallow marriage for domestic servants, conversion forms part of a repertoire of migration strategies that open up alternative options for long-term residence in the context of domestic work. This has been referred to in the literature as “subaltern cosmopolitanism.”

Further, this research argues that conversion is not simply a matter of “switching faiths.” Rather, embedded within the conversion process is a performative aspect — whether in terms of behavior, dress, or change in one’s personal name — all these exemplify a performance that accompany the change in one’s identity. The conversion ritual is a highly emotional process, and the emotional performances would confirm the Goffmanian insight that social life is a series of performative roles carefully managed, created, and implemented on a daily basis. The gendered aspect of these performances are a significant dimension of this study, in the context of domestic work universally performed by Filipino women. Fieldwork in Singapore and Brunei among domestic workers provides data for this research.

 

  • Affective Domesticities: Architecture, Literature and Affect
    Lilian CHEE, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The Singaporean public housing typology is pragmatically delineated in architectural and urban planning narratives. Reading the housing blocks instead through the lenses of precarity, subjectivity and emotion, this paper looks at Singaporean literature’s depiction of public housing as affective digressions from its habitually productivist culture. Through the writings of Kuo Pao Kun, Goh Poh Seng, Arthur Yap, and Tania de Rozario, it outlines how these literary texts act as documents of an affective spatial history, and as manifestoes of alternative spatial futures. It argues for how Singaporean literature enacts a tense ambivalence towards the narrowing priorities of a hyper-capitalist global city.

 

  • Engineering Home
    Jane M. JACOBS, Yale-NUS College, Singapore

This paper will examine historically the cultures of innovation linked to the engineering of state provided multi-storey, mass housing in Singapore in the period of 1960-1985. Drawing on professional reflections and technical reports from the Housing Development Board (HDB) (and successor institutions) the paper will focus on one surprisingly challenging domestic technology – the technology for drying clothes. Solving the clothes drying challenge in dense, multi-storey environments required many experimental prototypes. But unlike the laboratory prototype, these had limited laboratory lives, and were often quickly deployed into the lived experiment of HDB housing. This specific case is linked to a wider history of domestic built environment innovation in Singapore, which entangles efforts to restructure the construction industry with aspirations for housing a nation.

 

  • The Flexible Heart of the Home: Rehabilitating Disabled Homemakers in Postwar America
    Barbara PENNER, University College London, UK

This paper explores postwar American efforts to rehabilitate disabled homemakers. It does so by exploring two projects in particular: the Heart Kitchen (1949) and Homemaking for the Handicapped (1955-60). Both were multidisciplinary research programmes, involving large teams of medics, occupational therapists and designers, but they were most substantially shaped by the philosophy of industrial engineer, Lillian Gilbreth, and university-based home economists.

Instead of adhering to the modernist fiction that there could be a singular universal user – implicitly male, young, able-bodied the designs associated with homemaker rehabilitation had female bodies of all abilities and ages at its heart. These were very explicitly productive female bodies as these projects very much linked to questions of female domestic labour and the desire to prevent its “waste” in Gilbreth’s words. While those concerned with accommodating disabled homemakers did not set out to radically challenge normative ideas about domesticity, they were deeply invested in revaluing domestic work and in adapting domestic space and routines in ways that had some radical effects, laying the foundation for the inclusive design and independent living movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

 

  • Modernity, Transitoriness and Homelessness: Reflections on the Refugee Crisis
    Hilde HEYNEN, University of Leuven, Belgium

This contribution revisits questions of home and homelessness in modernity, urged by the refugee crisis in Europe. The first part re-addresses the critical literature on modernity as a condition of (metaphysical) homelessness, which has been formative for many interpretations of modernist architecture (Benjamin, Bloch, Tafuri, Cacciari). I will discuss how, from this point of view, the idea of transitoriness became embodied in certain interpretations of modern architecture.

In a second movement, I want to question how this critical tradition can be made productive in the face of the very physical homelessness that so many refugees are experiencing nowadays. What form can domesticity take in conditions of transitoriness and uncertainty? How to carve out a home in accommodations that are precarious, temporary and under control of others? This interpretation reflects upon architectural interventions produced in response to the refugee crisis of 2015, especially in Germany, and on experiences of refugees as reported in European mass media.

 

  • Domesticating the Sovereign Border: The Trojan Village at Block 19
    Anoma PIERIS, University of Melbourne, Australia

In the display hall at Block 19 in Bonegilla, part of the former Immigrant Reception Centre, now a heritage site, amidst rooms devoted to various aspects of Australia’s immigrant story, is a collection of architectural models of Nea Magnesia (New Magnesia), a refugee village outside Thessaloniki. Built by Anastasios Kolokotronis, and detailed in the book of his life, the village, his natal home, is a boundary between Greece and Turkey for a population who suffered multiple persecutions, leaving Greece for Smyrna during the Ottoman occupation, and returning following the expulsion of Greeks from Turkey during the 1920s.

This paper examines the affective hold of the refugee village in the imagination of Kolokotronis through his efforts at reconstructing it in Australia. By insinuating Nea Magnesia into the Bonegilla Story, the models counter the boundary practice of institutionalised assimilation with other narratives of exile and refuge. While the trope of the Trojan Village literally represents that exilic space, it also raises the metaphor of immigrant spatial practices that are alien, extraterritorial and test societal tolerance. Nea Magnesia in Bonegilla alerts us to serial displacements underlying immigrant ontologies, and demonstrates how conflicted notions of sovereignty are concretised and emplaced.

 

  • Domestic Empires: DIY and the Home Improvement Craze
    Lori A. BROWN, Syracuse University School of Architecture, USA

With the proliferation of home improvement programming, do-it-yourself and design stores, shelter magazines focusing on residential design and personality-driven design empires, design and its process, implementation and representation of everyday domesticity has infiltrated popular culture. Design is ubiquitous. But where are the the architects and the interior designers? Within this multi-billion-dollar industry, actively and obsessively consumed by the middle class, there is a vacuum of design professionals in this economy. Reinforced by networks like HGTV and DIY and American big box retail giants like Lowe’s and Home Depot is the idea that anyone can become a designer and renovate their home.

This paper will begin by discussing the role of taste within cultural and class identity and proceed to examine the professional and amateur within design that is a critical part of the home improvement craze. A series of case studies will be presented that will focus on three primary aspects that intersect with the idea of design: the co-option of ‘free’ and ‘all-inclusive’ design services within big box home improvement retailers to lure potential customers, perpetuation of gendered ideas of domesticity reinforced through TV programming, and neoliberal policies lauding private and vast consumerism.

 

  • Origins of the Japanese House: Postwar Discussions on Historical Dwellings, Lifestyles and Cultural Identities
    Izumi KUROISHI, Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan

In the post-war recovery period, there were dynamic changes in Japanese domestic spaces, caused by the demographic shifts from rural to urban, westernization of people’s lifestyle, technological development, and the permeation of American consumerism. The process of such changes was not a simple evolutional development of internationalization, modernization or economic improvement but was a process of controversial struggles between multiple social ideas and factors, which continued from the pre-war to the current period. The changes of Japanese housing designs and spaces should be reexamined in longer historical contexts, and with consideration of the interactions between architects, institutions, socio-economic and political factors, and residents in the creation of the idea of domestic space.

This paper focuses to the creation of the Japanese national housing model and the idea of the origin of Japanese architecture, referring to traditional lifestyle and aesthetics, cultural identity, democratic and functional space, minimum size dwelling, and mass production technology, in the period of extreme housing shortage and of the cold war in the 1950s. It also discusses the different approaches on that issue between four groups: public engineers, experimental architects, scholars of planning, and established architects and critiques, which disabled a comprehensive understanding of the domestic space.

 

  • Domesticity, Labor and “Ideal Homes” in Singapore
    Eunice SENG, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

This paper examines the evolving instrumentality of the idea of the “ideal home” to the processes of empire making in Malaya and Singapore, the formation and maintenance of the nation through housing, and the re-articulation of the domestic ideal in the contemporary context. In 1936, taking reference from the Ideal Homes Exhibition hosted by London’s Daily Mail, some women argued for a similar exhibition to be held in Singapore, but conversations were suspended with the onset of the Second World War. In 1948, Ideal Homes Company was founded, which built private housing estates promoting a modern tropical domesticity in Malaya throughout the 1950s. The first Ideal Home Exhibition in the colony finally opened in 1956 at the Happy World amusement park. In 1965 the YWCA hosted the first post-independence Ideal Homes Exhibition – the propagation of the ideal home was intrinsic to the aspirations of the nation. From the colonial imagination of a modern home to the building of the domestic ideal in the colony to the national exhibition to the millennial Ideal Homes magazine, this paper traces the interconnected histories of domesticity, labor and housing through the representations and lived realities of “the ideal home” amid Singapore’s transforming social milieu.

 

  • Homeless Cities
    Gülsüm BAYDAR, Yaşar University, İzmir and
    Cansu KARAKIZ, Graduate student, International Media Cultural Work programme; Hochschule Darmstadt, University of Applied Sciences

Urban regeneration has become the dominant of production of urban space in Turkey since the early 2000s. Supported by legal and administrative mechanisms and targeting maximum profit from valuable urban space, these projects effect a large segment of the urban population in terms of their relationship to housing. Replacing unauthorized and/or lower class settlements with luxury residences, the regeneration projects have also generated a considerable amount of social housing on the fringes of the city. As the wealthy move to the regenerated areas, some of the dislocated urban poor are resettled in social housing schemes and others are rendered literally homeless.

Taking home both as a literal and a metaphorical concept, our paper focuses on the changing body/space relationships in domestic environments that are effected and/or produced by urban regeneration processes, whereby not only the urban poor but also the occupants of luxury residences are deprived of agency in different ways. Inspired by psychoanalytical theories of subjectivity and based on field work in İzmir, we explore the complicated and unequal relationship between the subjects of the newly emerging luxury residences, occupants of social housing and squatter settlements with their domestic environments. Our argument is that urban regeneration projects produce new subjectivities by radically altering their subjects’ relationship to each other and to their homes and render all parties homeless albeit at different levels.

 

  • Shopping Centers as Public Spaces: The Case of Kolkata, India
    Mallika BOSE, The Pennsylvania State University, USA

Shopping and consumption is increasingly the backdrop of many public spaces in the world, and this trend is apparent in India too. Since the 2000s, India has seen the rapid construction of shopping centers fashioned in the likeness of mega malls in the US. In Kolkata, such malls include the Forum Courtyard, Quest Mall and South City Mall. These malls are examples of enclosed inward-focused shopping centers. However, there are other malls in Kolkata (and India) that represent a hybrid model of shopping centers, integrating the inward-focused shopping with more traditional courtyard style shopping. City Center 1 and 2 are examples of these hybrid shopping centers.

How are these shopping oriented spaces impacting public spaces in Indian cities? How is gender and class implicated in the use of these places? In what ways are these malls/shopping centers helping to imagine and reimagine public space in the 21st century city? In this exploratory study, we begin to investigate these questions through case studies of three malls in Kolkata, India (Quest Mall, City Center 1 and City Center 2). We use the public space index developed by Mehta (2014) to investigate the quality of shopping malls as contemporary public spaces in terms of inclusiveness, meaningfulness, comfort, safety and pleasurability.

 

  • Refusing Housework and Other Implications of Devaluation in Architecture
    Catharina GABRIELSSON, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Essential for maintaining the liveability of spaces – private as well as public – the undervalued, low-paid and often invisible labour of housework has not been sufficiently related to architecture or critically assessed from within the disciplinary structure. Adopted as a framing device for a series of non-representational, care-taking practices (Gabrielsson 2017), this paper centres on housework in relation to values in architecture. The production of values straddles uncomfortably between architectural claims of being an art form, and as embedded in labour relations, real estate economics and forms of capitalist accumulation. Conversely, devaluation points to the ‘scorched earth’ strategies of property developers, who by allowing buildings to fall into decay legitimize their demolishment and replacement. What are the implications of devaluation on a domestic scale, and in relation to the construction of ‘home’, both increasingly wrought into market mechanisms and the outsourcing of domestic labour? Drawing on recent conversations in the art world – ranging from exhibition boycotts to modes of self-organisation – this paper considers if devaluation in architecture similarly can be reconceptualised in a critical mode. If housework is crucial for the production and sustenance of values in architecture – what happens, for instance, if and when such work is refused?

 

  • House/Work: On Laundry, Subversion, and Enchantment
    Naomi STEAD, Monash University, Australia and
    Kelly GREENOP, University of Queensland, Australia

This paper reflects on an ongoing research project, examining detailed domestic micro-practices: of hanging and line-drying laundry, in the Australian city of Brisbane. The paper looks to make visible such practices, as exemplary of all the other unseen and largely undervalued domestic work overwhelmingly undertaken by women. House/work is a Sisyphean labour: no sooner is the floor swept than it is dirty again, no sooner are the clothes washed than they are besmirched, no sooner have you cooked and cleaned up than you are, again, hungry. The rhythms of house/work are the rhythms of life: of sustenance, maintenance, ablution, and rest; of wearing out; care of self and care of others; of the passage of time and aging towards mortality. But while these tasks can be mundane they are far from banal. Indeed, our research has shown that they can be enchanting: full of intimate humour and micro-resistance, intellectual refuge and emotional profundity. The paper celebrates everyday creativity in house/work, and the design of everyday life: how individuals redesign the particular domestic chore of hanging laundry to make it meaningful, personal, critical, subversive, queer, pleasurable, dissident, political, and a game.

 

  • Leviathan and the Santo Perri House in Melbourne
    Mirjana LOZANOVSKA, Deakin University, Australia

In a scene in Leviathan (2015 film Zvyagintsev), a sea monster, in the form of a bulldozer, emerges from the river and comes crashing into the front window of the living room. The film deals with an individual’s tragedy and crime while trying to save the house built by his grandfather. Its location by the river is pivotal to a PPP or ‘private public partnership,’ where the church, the state and corporate development join forces towards a “progressive” global economy. The individual is imprisoned for offences against the State. His friends, who live in typical communist slab housing, turn against him.

The Santo Perri House, built in the 1960s by Italian immigrants, was recently demolished to make way for seven units, facilitated by the new planning policy of densification in Melbourne. Its demolition was executed in a series of stages, starting with the garden of 40-year-old fruit trees and intricate system of irrigation. There are many levels of tragedy in the demise of the Santo Perri house, but the true crime was one of entry and assault by a policeman and his friend. Santo Perri, a gun and locksmith, refused to sell guns to the policeman’s friend who did not have a valid license. The assault resulted in permanent brain damage to Santo Perri’s wife. Perri subsequently secured his house with intricate custom made protective locks, screens, bolts and alarm systems, and kept his family inside for the ensuing decades. Locks become intricate components of home-making.

This paper will examine crime in relation to domesticity/home/the house. Through its enquiry into what protection does a house afford individuals, and in turn, what protection can individuals offer their ancestral home, the paper theorises the notion of dwelling in contemporary society.

 

  • Scientizing Tradition in Postwar Korea
    Melany Sun-Min PARK, Harvard University, USA

During the nationwide restoration of ancient structures that took place in postwar South Korea, aesthetic preoccupations confronted technical priorities. The preservation efforts of the 8th-century cave-temple, Seokguram, gave rise to issues of historical authenticity and structural integrity that cast the scientific project as an architectural problem. This shed new light onto the much-celebrated grotto, which, up until this point, had garnered the exclusive attention of art historians for its aesthetic accomplishment. This presentation examines the ways in which artistic and structural commitments became central to postwar Korean architects who formulated their disciplinary language against rising scientific institutions, notably the Korea Institute of Science and Technology established in 1966. The archaeological and scientific interests of architects emerged in the tension between “specialist” and “generalist” knowledge that the modernizing state sought to resolve. If the state rhetoric collapsed the distinction between kwahak (science) and kisul (technology) to promote its developmental aspirations, the boundaries of architectural practice were similarly shaped against its industrial application. I trace the rise of systematic thinking in modern Korean architecture, which transpired precisely at the moment when it shared with other disciplines the conundrum of defining and demonstrating expertise.