- Creativity and controversy in a new anthropology of buildings
- Volume | Issue number
- 17 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Review article
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Driven by a common critique of human exceptionalism in Western thought, the recent anthropological study of things and materiality has also developed a new perspective on buildings and how they interact with humans. In this review article I discuss four recent anthropological books that deal with architecture. Explicitly or implicitly all of these books move away from the representational paradigm that has dominated the study of architecture for decades. They seek new ways to conceptualize the relation between materiality and symbol, creation and cognition, space and meaning. However, they differ with respect to the role buildings play in politics and social controversies. Whereas politics seems largely absent in the more theoretically inclined studies, the more ethnographically based books show that it is perfectly possible, and even desirable, to combine a phenomenological approach with an interest in political-symbolic processes.
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