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Department of


Graduate Research

Social & Spatial Formations

Social & Spatial Formations of Architecture and Urbanization: Histories and Theories


This area of study is focused on the understanding and interpretation of architecture and urbanization within the larger social formations in which they are embedded. Our research is informed by a wide range of theoretical positions and methodological approaches, including studies of space and spatiality, critical theory, political geography, postcolonial theory, feminism, new materialism, anthropology and cultural studies. We study architecture and urbanization as existing within a dynamic, mutually constitutive relationship with the social, the cultural, the political, the economic, the ecological, and through self-organizing and emergent systems. We are especially interested in architecture’s entanglement with different political ideologies, including those of liberalism, neoliberalism, Marxism, capitalism, communism, and nationalism.

Faculty in this area are widely recognized through their research, curatorial work, international lecturing, and publications, covering a range of topics, including histories of urbanization, critical theories of architecture, histories of global socialism and the socialist city, and complex adaptive systems (CAS). With all its variety, our research nevertheless converges around a few common themes. One concerns the problems of housing and urbanization on a planetary scale, engaging a range of methods—from empirical and practice-based, to theoretical and historical. Another point of convergence is the architectural and urban history of Central and Eastern Europe.


Keywords: Architecture, Architectural History, Housing, Urbanization, Urbanism, Globalization, Ideology, Political Economy, Urban Political Ecology, Social formations, Critical Theory, Post-colonial theory, Complexity Theory, New Materialism

Faculty conducting research in this area: Vladimir Kulić, Mikesch MueckeDouglas Spencer, Sharon Wohl, Kimberly Zarecor

Please click on the names of the above faculty members for more information about their respective research areas.