Although race—a concept of human difference that establishes hierarchies of power and domination—has played a critical role in the development of modern architectural discourse and practice since the Enlightenment, its influence on the discipline remains largely underexplored. Race and Modern Architecture, an anthology of 18 essays written by architectural historians, critics and thinkers, offers a welcome and long-awaited intervention for the field by shining a spotlight on constructions of race and their impact on architecture and theory in Europe and North America and across various global contexts since the eighteenth century. The volume, edited by Irene Cheng, Charles L. Davis II, Mabel O. Wilson, challenges us to write race back into architectural history and confront how racial thinking has intimately shaped some of the key concepts of modern architecture and culture over time, including freedom, revolution, character, national and indigenous style, progress, hybridity, climate, representation, and radicalism. In this discussion chaired by Michael Badu, and joined by Victoria Ogoegbunam Okoye, Shumi Bose, Mary Vaughan Johnson, Nana Biamah-Ofosu & Neal Shasore, we invite you to reflect on how architecture intersects with histories of slavery, colonialism, and inequality, and how the publication is situated within the UK’s context.


This conversation formed part of the Architecture Foundation's Book Week 2020, which ran from 23-27 November 2020, and included nightly talks from the authors of 2020’s best architecture books. The ten-part series was the first instance of a festival that the Architecture Foundation will stage bi-annually, and all talks are available to rewatch on our Youtube Channel.

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