ESR 2 – Anna Livia Vørsel

Becoming evident: material knowledge in Swedish post-war housing

Project Description

The PhD project, Becoming Evident: material forms of knowing, looks at the material, economic, bureaucratic and social history of buildings, asking how traces of socio-political and economic conditions are registered and stored in building materials, and how these can be traced through material ‘events’ and ’stutters’. Written within architectural theory, history, and critical studies, it critically addresses knowledge production in architecture, questioning what knowledge has and is given validity (by what actors and systems), and who or what can carry it. The research project engages with several case studies, buildings and sites in Stockholm, Sweden affected by and intermeshed with the financialization of housing in the context of the Swedish welfare state and its recent history of privatization. Through its methodology, the research aims to locate approaches that can make visible how complex and immaterial socio-political and economic structures become materialized: how they sediment into building materials, change indoor environments and move walls. As a tool for unpacking the evidential capacities of materials, the research applies artist and researcher Susan Schuppli’s operative concept of the Material Witness: “an exploration of the evidential role of matter as registering external events as well as exposing the practices and procedures that enable such matter to bear witness.” As methods for interrogating the many intercrossing actors, elements and stories embedded into the history of buildings, the research looks to Histoire Croisée and ‘entangled (architectural) histories’. The research will take the form of a monograph, using considerations of ‘writing as practice’, storytelling and speculative narration in situating myself as researcher and historian against the work, and critically reflecting on its production. The PhD research is part of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action project ‘TACK / Communities of Tacit Knowledge: Architecture and its Ways of Knowing’.

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