ANTi-History in design research: New applications and interpretations

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In the postcolonial era, contemporary poststructuralist paradigm shift has provided alternative views of the past as well, especially in terms of new interpretations of regional histories and understanding of cultural contexts. One fairly novel strategy in this respect is ANTi-History, which is an approach to the study of the past drawing on the actor-network theory (ANT). The objective is to offer diverse readings of the largely Euro-America centralized history writing by revealing accounts that have earlier been overlooked. Contrary to the negative connotation of ‘anti’, ANTi-History does not, however, negate the significance of history, but aims to pluralize historical narratives. The view is based on Foucauldian poststructuralism and comprehension of the present as it relates to the past. In other words, ANTi-History focuses on the present, while seeking alternate connotations and (de)constructions of past events, particularly in relation to sociopolitical actants and actions. This links ANTi-History to the concept of Applied History, according to which present-day problems can be solved by knowledge of the past. As to design research, substitute readings of history are particularly relevant in the postcolonial contexts, in which ‘place making’ as part of re-creating regional identities is the main concern and further related to Critical Regionalism. Hence, this paper examines the interrelationship between ANTi-History, Critical Regionalism, and decolonialization within the discourse on the design of built environment. To clarify ANTi-History as a theoretical framework in architectural research, a single-case study on the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia is given as an example, in order to offer new interpretations of its architecture and design actions in one postcolonial context. Consequently, the paper argues that applications of this paradigm to precedent studies both in the education of architecture and in the practice-based research can be pertinent in the future praxis.

KEYWORDS: Actor-Network Theory, Applied History, Critical Regionalism, Transculturalism, Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ARCC 2019 International Conference
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future of Praxis: Applied Research as a Bridge Between Theory and Practice
EditorsChris Jarrett, Philip Plowright, Hazem Rashed-Ali
PublisherArchitectural Research Centers Consortium
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-578-51124-5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
EventARCC 2019 International Conference: Future Praxis: Applied Research as a Bridge Betweeb Theory and Practice - Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 29 May 20191 Jun 2019


ConferenceARCC 2019 International Conference
Abbreviated titleARCC 2019
OtherIn the world of increasing complexity and competing ideas, approaches, resources and techniques, how does architecture mediate these tensions? What is the role of academics and researchers in developing research outcomes that are meaningful and measurable? What is the role of practicing designers (architects, engineers and scientists) in developing an applied research agenda in architecture?

The ARCC 2019 International Conference in Toronto wishes to explore applied or practice-based research in architecture.

RMIT professor Laurene Vaughan’s 2017 book, “Practice-based Design Research”, argued for the validity and importance of practice-based design research. In the same book, Cameron Tonkinwise of Carnegie Mellon University apologized for practice-based design’s “defensive insularity as it tried to shore up its epistemological claims throughout the 2000s”.  He concludes that applied or practice-based design research, today, has a valid and important status as a discipline: “This means that the practice of expert designing involves precisely the sorts of meta-cognitive, processual knowledges that characterize a discipline.”

ARCC 2019 seeks the identification, definition, positioning, defense and formalization of applied research as a bridge between theory and practice in the future praxis of architecture.
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