Symposium: Building Like a State

Lectures, Conferences & Events» Conferences

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SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 2023 • 10:00 AM TO 5:00 PM • ROOM 56-114 
In person only, will not be accessible remotely. Register here.

Throughout history, states and empires have used architecture to subdue and defend against nomadic peoples perceived as troublesome and threatening. Architectural history tends to read such building projects solely as evidence of top-down state control, and to position nomadism and permanent architecture as mutually exclusive. This symposium contests these narratives, highlighting the diversity of building practices among nomadic communities and the nuanced ways in which nomads engage with and respond to state building projects. Through papers offered by historians, anthropologists, architects, and artists, with a global focus spanning North America, Scandinavia, the Middle East, and Asia, this symposium uses architecture as a lens onto understanding and reframing nomad-state relations in the past and present.  

PROGRAM

10.00 
WELCOME NOTE 
Huma Gupta, MIT

OPENING REMARKS
Maggie Freeman, MIT

PANEL 1
BUILDING FOR THE STATE

Respondent: Huma Gupta, MIT
10.15
The Case of the UAE Sha’abi House:
Appropriating Architecture and Forming a State

Yasser ElsheshtawyColumbia University

10.45 
“Tombs, Mummies and Bones Lie Silent:”
The Paradox of “Dead Cities” in Late Imperial and Early Soviet Russia, 1880-1905.
Ismael BiyashevUniversity of Illinois 
11.15 
Desert Control: A Story in Four Acts
Maggie Freeman, MIT
11.45 
DISCUSSION AND Q&A 
12.00
LUNCH BREAK

PANEL 2
BUILDING IN THE STATE

Respondent: Thomas Barfield, Boston University
13.00
“Functionalism” of Settlements for Tibetan Pastoralists in China 
Jarmila Ptáčková, Czech Academy of Sciences

13.30 
Governing Nomads in and from Ashgabat and Bishkek, Soviet Central Asia in the 1920s and 1930s
Alun Thomas, Staffordshire University
14.00 
Peripheral Interest? Sámi Building in Nordic Architectural Discourse
Sofia Singler, University of Cambridge
14.30 
DISCUSSION AND Q&A 
14.45 
COFEE BREAK

 PANEL 3
BUILDING WITH THE STATE

Respondent: Mark Jarzombek, MIT
15.00 
Sámi Placemaking through a Mobile Library 
Joar Nango, Independent Artist

15.30 
National Belonging and the Design of Bedouin Towns in the Negev Desert
Noam Shoked, Tel Aviv University
16.00 
Working with the Nunavimiut and Nunavumiut in the Canadian Arctic:
The Architects’ Changing Role over the Last 40 Years

Alain Fournier, EVOQ Architects
16.30
DISCUSSION AND Q&A
 16.45 
CONCLUDING REMARKS

Illustration: ‘The Giant Lavvu Syndrome’ by Joar Nango depicts the artist’s observation of the use of the Sámi lavvu architectural typology by architects of non-Sámi heritage and the resulting reduction of Sámi culture and heritage to a single architectural symbol. © Joar Nango.