Attending to the Body: Kinship and Care in Urbanism and Architecture

First class: October 23

Disasters demand that we be collaborative and cooperative as we rush to repair. We are asked to give thought to infrastructure and ecology, but the more urgent call is to attend carefully to the human body. How does starting with the body inform our understanding of care? And as we turn our attention to the body, how do we learn from the collective means that communities use to attend to their own and others? Put differently, how can phenomenology and kinship shape urbanism and architecture in their visions and processes of care?

This course will focus on the role of care in urban planning and architecture, exploring care during crises and as part of the everyday—care as a response to catastrophe, care as a counter to neglect. We will investigate care in its multiple dimensions—as a form of concern and as a provision of help—and examine it in multiple spheres—public space, housing, climate change, ecology, urban design, development, humanitarianism. Students will undertake individual and group projects that draw on urban studies and planning, architecture, art, public health, and environmentalism. And we will ask, How does a proper understanding of care and kinship prepare urban planning and architecture to thoughtfully respond to the current pandemic?

The main texts are Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, Sara Hendren’s What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World, and Alexandra Lange’s The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids, and we will have conversations in response to the work of, among others, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Saidiya Hartman, Leslie Kern, Natalie Diaz, Camille Dungy, Arthur Jafa, Shannon Matern, Joan Tronto, Mabel O. Wilson, Kyo Maclear, Alice Sheppard, Trisha Brown, Walis Johnson, Malo Hutson, and Moms4Housing.