Labor and Architecture

a graduate/undergraduate history seminar taught at the University of New Mexico

What constitutes the work of an architect? How might design, among other forms of architectural work, be considered “labor?” In what ways have cultures of exploitation fueled the practice of architecture—in both the academy and profession? This seminar seeks to answer these questions in terms of historical and contemporary theories of labor, and it includes an interrogation of the particular sites in which design and construction work takes place. The first part of the class will examine the various types and means by which architectural labor has been described within capitalist economies since the industrial revolution: manual labor, creative labor, immaterial labor, gendered labor, racial labor, and digital labor. The second part of the class will seek to identify the sites and conditions in which these labors play out, as well as those who do the “laboring”: the construction site, the classroom, the architecture office, and the spaces in between.