As architects and educators, we have seen how the pandemic put many things on hold. Graduating students who planned to jumpstart their careers saw their employment opportunities vanish. Younger students were similarly deprived of summer internships. All were left processing a strange spring semester, the second half of which was necessarily conducted online. The experience forced many questions to the surface: What is the value of an architecture education? Is the classroom or studio the most conducive space for learning? If not, what is?
We do not pretend to know all these answers. What we do know, however, is that we live in a world perpetually in crisis. The pandemic is not unique in this sense, even if its proscriptions are. The public health mandate to socially distance ourselves from others mirrors the alienation endemic to capitalist society, which separates workers from the products of their labor and draws up a barrier between thinking intellect and toiling bodies. In the case of architecture, the field has become detached from the wider world, giving practitioners a false sense of autonomy.
But few, if any, can completely insulate themselves from the effects of crises. We must, then, respond by equipping ourselves with the knowledge and tools to build alternatives to the present order of things. (We might unmake architecture in the process.) To this end, we recently launched the Loudreaders Trade School as a new, free, and accessible platform for education. The name alludes to the practice of 19th- and 20th-century Cuban (and eventually Puerto Rican) tobacco workers who, bored with rolling cigars all day, hired the literate among their ranks to read to them on the job. As the practice of loud-reading grew, the lectores (loudreaders) became traveling performers with larger and larger audiences. They succeeded in creating networks of solidarity all around the Caribbean, as well as a massive shared and open-access oral library to workers who were denied any other form of formal education.
A growing, accessible library is central to our Loudreaders program. The texts it holds were compiled from contributing international authors, designers, artists, and thinkers who gather online to loud-read critical discourses to audiences. The books, essays, and articles shared by the loudreaders range from histories of race and the exploitation of oppressed groups to strategies of solidarity and other models of anti-capitalist resistance in architecture, urbanism, and culture. Together, they form a critical infrastructure for understanding the world today.
Here, we highlight 12 of these texts that we believe can help readers foster an emancipatory imagination. Well need it for the turbulent times ahead.
Critique of Black Reason (2013)by Achille Mbembe
By delving into the work of Frantz Fanon and other critical thinkers, Mbembe renders the intersection where capitalism, exploitation, and race meet. Not much escapes Mbembes grasp, as he traces the creation of the concept of Blackness and the transatlantic slave trade to our current neoliberal moment, one characterized by the climatological crisis, the postimperial military complex, contemporary technologies of mass communication, and the commodification of death.
Necropolitics(2011)by Achille Mbembe and Gore Capitalism (2018)by Sayak Valencia
Capitalisms architecture is anchored in the foundations of death. Achille Mbembe and Sayak Valencia expose the relations between hyperviolence and law, militarization and the commodification of death, geopolitical borders, and the postcolonies, norm and exception, the state of war and states of security and freedom.
Caliban and The Witch (1998) by Silvia Federici and Learning From the Virus(2020) by Paul B. Preciado
For Silvia Federici and Paul B. Preciado, the body is the center around which capitalism, class, exploitation, and politics turn. Federici rethinks the origins and development of capitalism and a long history of models of resistance from a feminist viewpoint, while Preciado proposes to look at links between community and immunity, health and class, and subjecthood and sovereignty.
Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism (2019) by Ariella Azoulay and The Tertiary (2018)by Raquel Salas Rivera
By creating a potential history, Azoulay questions the imperialist construction of time, space, and politics through objects and experiences of struggles around the world, from the original peoples in the Americas, to the Congo under King Leopold II. Salas Rivera reexamines theories of value in Marxist economics and suggests that just as labor is usually the third thing that gives value, there are also other tertiaries between colonialism and Puerto Rico, queer and transness, the binary of colony and empire.
El Lector: A History of the Cigar Factory Reader (2010) by Araceli Tinajero and Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution (1902) by Pytor Kropotkin
In El Lector, Araceli Tinajero describes the evolution of the loudreaders and role of iconic figures like the Puerto Rican feminist and anarcho-syndicalist Luisa Capetillo in the Tobacco Factories across the Caribbean and U.S. as they were able to establish networks of subversive solidarity that promoted emancipatory practices. Among the texts read by Capetillo and others in the tobacco factories, Kropotkins Mutual Aid served as a model for solidarity, collective organization, and emancipatory empowerment.
In Praise of Laziness (1993) by Mladen Stilinovi and Laziness as the Real Truth of Mankind (1921) by Kazimir Malevich
Against the commodification of human life, Mladen Stilinovi and Kazimir Malevich plead for idleness as the ultimate goal of worldly existence. As Stilinovi recalls, Malevich criticized capitalism, because it enabled only a small number of capitalists to be lazy, but also state socialism, which lionized work and disparaged laziness. The lockdown of the past few months rendered architectural labor as non-essential, while making laziness all the more appealing, even necessary, something Stilinovi repeatedly notes in his work: There is no art without laziness. Work is a Disease. Work is a shame.
In Defense of the Poor Image (2009) by Hito Steyerl
In one of the most compelling manifestos about the post-internet era (the art and cultural phenomenon of the mid 2000s), Hito Steyerl reveals the value, intelligence, and subversive power of low-res images. Challenging the capitalist framework that focuses on authorship and high resolution, In Defense of the Poor Image is an ode to low-quality, mass-recycled, authorless pictures. In the kingdom of the internet, the poor image reigns supreme.
Cruz Garcia & Nathalie Frankowski are the founders of WAI Architecture Think Tank. The pair launched the Loudreaders Trade School in June 2020.
See more here:
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- Circular Economy Coalition launched for Latin America and the Caribbean - UN Environment - February 7th, 2021
- Caribbean Currents: Coffee is another favorite flavor of the islands - The Philadelphia Tribune - February 7th, 2021
- Biggest Swell of the Season Kisses the Caribbean - Surfline.com Surf News - February 7th, 2021
- The World's 10 Biggest Cruise Ships - Cruise Industry News - February 7th, 2021
- Sweet Potato Is The Caribbeans Regenerative Giant - Forbes - February 7th, 2021
- At Brooklyn's KOKOMO, the Diversity and Harmony of Caribbean Food Are on Full Display - The Daily Meal - February 7th, 2021
- Air Canada to Suspend Flights to the Caribbean and Mexico - AviationPros.com - February 7th, 2021
- An exceptional weekend ahead for 15 entries of the 3rd Annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge - Sail World - February 7th, 2021
- Caribbean World Series: Would Cuba have done well if invited to this years tournament? - Call to the Pen - February 7th, 2021
- Caribbean Economic Survival Tied To Balancing Health Safety and Responsible Tourism - South Florida Caribbean News - February 7th, 2021
- Pirates of the Caribbean's Blackbeard Secretly Debuted In The First Movie - Screen Rant - February 7th, 2021
- Remarks to the Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States - ICC - International Chamber of Commerce - February 7th, 2021
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- Sandals Caribbean resorts in hot water over COVID-19 'breach' - New York Post - January 5th, 2021
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- Pirates Of The Caribbean: Captain Hook's Hidden Role Explained - Screen Rant - January 5th, 2021
- Unilever's The Vegetarian Butcher expands plant-based Whopper roll out in Latin America, the Caribbean and China - FoodIngredientsFirst - January 5th, 2021
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- Off the beaten track, Caribbean-style: Here's where to social distance in paradise - The Boston Globe - December 14th, 2020
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- The Bahamas' Atlantis Resort Just Reopened Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - December 14th, 2020
- Scientists Just Mapped All the Coral Reefs in the Caribbean - Caribbean Journal - December 14th, 2020
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- Convicted Terrorist Deported Back To Guyana - Caribbean and Latin America Daily News - News Americas - December 14th, 2020
- Grandfather of toddler who fell from a Royal Caribbean ship has sentencing delayed - Royal Caribbean Blog - December 14th, 2020
- In the Caribbean and Beyond, Aunties Are So Much More Than Just Family - The New York Times - November 17th, 2020
- 'We will never forget this year': Hurricane Iota roars through Caribbean coast just devastated by Eta - USA TODAY - November 17th, 2020
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- The US and the Caribbean: time to seize the moment - Stabroek News - November 17th, 2020
- House Hunting on Bonaire: Perched Above the Caribbean for $1.5 Million - The New York Times - November 17th, 2020
- Iota forecast to rapidly strengthen in the Caribbean - CNN - November 17th, 2020
- Positive COVID-19 tests reported on first Caribbean cruise to resume operations amid pandemic - UPI News - November 17th, 2020
- Caribbean economies urged to invest in infrastructure to secure post-COVID growth - BNamericas English - November 17th, 2020
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: 10 Most Glaring Continuity Errors In The Film Series - Screen Rant - November 17th, 2020
- Bride and Groom from New York Drown on Caribbean Honeymoon - India West - November 17th, 2020
- Sunny And Cooler Days This Week; Iota Rapidly Intensifying In The Caribbean - Alabama News Network - November 17th, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean Is Better Without Johnny Depp - Screen Rant - November 17th, 2020
- British Virgin Islands' Scrub Island to Reopen Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - November 17th, 2020
- Is there a bad cruise ship room to book? - Royal Caribbean Blog - November 17th, 2020
- Watching four disturbances in the Atlantic Basin; one in the Caribbean - Wink News - September 6th, 2020
- Why Rich Americans Are Fleeing To The Caribbean This Winter - Forbes - September 6th, 2020
- Caribbean Flavors to Shift the Palate, from Yardy - The New Yorker - September 6th, 2020
- Soca Artists Kes The Band Is Back With New Live Album Just In Time For Labor Day Weekend - Essence - September 6th, 2020
- Travel (virtually) to the island of Curaao through these photos - USA Today 10Best - September 6th, 2020
- Keeping an eye on an area in the Caribbean - kjas.com - September 6th, 2020
- Global Warming Could Bring More Hurricanes to the Caribbean: Study - Nearshore Americas - September 6th, 2020
- Who are the Jews of Jamaica and the Caribbean? - Patch.com - September 6th, 2020
- Caribbean Chef Stands Out with Hawaiian Cuisine - Caribbean News - caribbeannationalweekly.com - September 6th, 2020
- Palladium Hotel Group announces new Fall openings in Mexico and the Caribbean - Travel Daily News International - September 6th, 2020
- Caribbean Business And Finance Report - Caribbean and Latin America Daily News - News Americas - September 6th, 2020
- THE VIEW FROM EUROPE: Why vaccine nationalism should concern the Caribbean - Barbados Advocate - September 6th, 2020
- Disturbance in Caribbean Sea expected to strengthen into tropical depression - Tampa Bay Times - September 4th, 2020
- Caribbean islands respond to record COVID deaths - NYCaribNews - September 4th, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Original Flying Dutchman Ship Explained - Screen Rant - September 4th, 2020
- Coast Guard and Partners Seize Cocaine and Apprehend Suspected Smugglers in Caribbean Sea - HSToday - September 4th, 2020
- Renewal Interview Waiver Updates | US Embassy in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS - US Embassy in Barbados - September 4th, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean: What The "Mark" Was That Jack Left On Beckett - Screen Rant - September 4th, 2020
- Wonder of the Seas to be floated out on Friday - Royal Caribbean Blog - September 4th, 2020
- Latin America & The Caribbean - Weekly Situation Update (3-9 August 2020) as of 10 August 2020 - Bahamas - ReliefWeb - August 10th, 2020
- How to get a second passport in the Caribbean - Business Insider - Business Insider - August 10th, 2020