2015, Sat, Oct 24

Humanitarian’s Housing Question: From Slum Reform to Digital Shelter

With Andrew Herscher (UM, Taubman College)

The Middle Eastern refugees that are struggling to find refuge in Europe are not only contending with material and political boundaries – the fences, borders, and restrictive immigration policies that are meant to channel, filter, or block their movement – but conceptual boundaries, as well. Among the many conceptual boundaries that these refugees are calling into question is that between “humanitarianism” and “architecture.”

Posing the European city as an alternative to the refugee camp, the refugees are also posing architecture’s “housing question” as an alternative to humanitarianism’s “shelter question.” In so doing, these refugees solicit a critical re-examination of the relationship between humanitarianism and architecture. In his presentation, Andrew Herscher will outline a history of this relationship that attempts to keep faith with the refugees and their contemporary project of refuge.