Mania Akbari with Eyal Weizman & Christina Varvia
Body Politics: The Architecture of Struggle from Cells to Territories
Date: Tuesday 12 November 2019
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
The seminar will begin with the screening of the film A Moon for My Father by Mania Akbari and Douglas White, followed by a short presentation and conversation with Mania Akbari.
‘Our bodies live in their current contexts with their historic, scientific, genetic and social memories. Yet how do these memories take shape today in interactions with machines? Machines that are manufactured by our bodies and machines that simultaneously manufacture our bodies as well? […] When the human organs become centralized in confrontation with various situations, new political movements arise. The deepest part of humans' bodies is the skin and the furthest part, the geopolitical borders. Contemporary bodies carry the deepest and the furthest at the same time. They socialize with their internal geopolitical borders.’
The seminar continues to explore the means by which architecture — as a contemporary set of techniques and as a body of knowledge — can become an investigative mode through which to interrogate contemporary politics and conflict.
Conflicts are urban phenomena, played out within dense media and data environments. However, political violence no longer focuses on the control of territories, but rather on the governance of population. From the use of tear gas to choke protestors, through to the humanitarian governance of populations in the global south, to the machine learning processes of facial recognition and biometric fingerprinting data (as recently seen in the suppression of the Hong Kong protests), the body is once again the focus of systems of government and control.
In recent years, the term ‘biopolitics’ has been productive in understanding contemporary conflict. But there have been some considerable shifts in our present techno-political reality since Michel Foucault first formulated and Agamben then re-articulated the notion.
This series maps out the shifting landscapes articulated around the term ‘biopolitics’ and the ways in which it could inform architectural investigations. Each seminar – building upon the work of Forensic Architecture, its collaborators and friends – introduces a concept that bridges between architecture and the question of life.
All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.