ABP RESEARCH SEMINAR
Indigenous urbanity – issues at stake in the delivery of a metropolitan cultural centre
Dr Anoma Pieris
Senior Lecturer, Architecture
The Australian public sphere as a material physical manifestation is mimetic and spectral; formally and spatially capable of assimilating cultural difference but as yet under-cooked in the delivery of a real context for social action – a phenomenon most evident in its capital city. Consequently, the claims made by Indigenous actors on this space through acts of resistance and occupation appear incongruous and uncanny- as with the Tent Embassy- a stubborn reminder of those excluded from the national imagination. In contrast, Redfern in Sydney is an example of the making and remaking of Indigenous claims through urban occupation, a struggle that the architecture of the Pemulwuy project finds difficult to represent. While Indigenous communities may adopt radical urban strategies against the norms and forms imposed by an alien culture, their desire to be both audible and visible in this environment necessitates specific compromises.
This paper looks closely at four examples of Indigenous cultural centres from North America that engage with metropolitan briefs in specific ways- ranging from clandestine insertions into existing building envelopes to purpose built museum facilities. It situates this research within a broader debate on the ‘right to the city,’ and its advocacy by David Harvey in 2008 in the face of the Global Economic Crisis. It asks, “What is at stake in the institutionalisation of indigeneity against historic incidence of resistant occupation, and a desire for occupation, moreover, that is not ontologically urbane?”
Anoma Pieris is a senior lecture at the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning. She is an architectural historian by training with a specialist focus on South and Southeast Asian architecture. Her recent book, Hidden Hands and Divided Landscapes: a penal history of Singapore’s plural society (University of Hawaii Press 2009) focuses on the intersection between urban history and colonial prisons through the lens of construction labour. She teaches design in both the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
1:00 PM THURSDAY 26 MAY 2011
FIRST FLOOR, ARCHITECTURE BUILDING
Research Support Officer,
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
Room 207, Old Commerce Building
University of Melbourne, VIC 3010
T: +61 3 90354402
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