I’m now on my way home from a very interesting and enjoyable week at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. The invitation was to give one of the two keynote talks to a conference on the Identity, Sovereignty, and Global Politics in the Building of Baghdad: From Revolution through the Gulf War and Beyond. I gave a talk entitled ‘Crises of Territorial Integrity: Iraq and Nigeria’, which was intended to situate the discussion of the next two days in a wider context. Some of this was an updating of claims in Terror and Territory. My lecture seemed to be well received, though I had some technical difficulties with the images and got a bit thrown by those. [The lecture as a whole is now available here.] Overall a very interesting event with a range of academics, contractors, military and government figures.
As I was going to be visiting, my good friend and research collaborator Neil Brenner organised a couple of other events. First was a discussion with his Urban Theory Lab, where Łukasz Stanek and I both presented some of our work. I talked about the relation between my work on territory and debates on the urban, and Łukasz on his ongoing work on socialist architectural practice as a mode of mondialisation. His example in the talk was Accra, which was particularly interesting for me given I was there earlier this month. Lots of good discussion and things to think about.
The second was a book discussion on Henri Lefebvre’s Toward an Architecture of Enjoyment, which Łukasz had edited (see also my interview with him about the book). The panel discussion first had a presentation from Łukasz, then short comments from Eve Blau, Tom Conley, Michael Hays, and me. There were some good questions from the floor in a lively discussion. The session was recorded, so I’ll post a link when it’s available. I’d not met Eve, Tom or Michael before. It was especially good to meet Tom, who had written a nice review of The Birth of Territory, and who has a deep interest in French theory. We had a brief talk about Foucault’s 1972 Minnesota lecture “Cérémonie, théâtre et politique au XVIIe siècle”, which Tom attended.
And it wasn’t all work – as fortune had it with dates, I was able to catch one of the Boston concerts of King Crimson, who have reformed in a seven-man, three-drummer formation. Now home for a day, before heading over to Groningen for a lecture and seminar.