Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi and Samia Henni: Land and History in the Living Room

a photo collage of living room furniture with a woman standing behind a couch

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi and Samia Henni: Land and History in the Living Room image/provided

Living Room Event Series

If history is based on documents in archives and archives are established by landed powers, how do we write histories of migrants, of refugees, of nomads? This Living Room discussion disentangles history from land. It asks how to think of and narrate the past when a group's relation to the land is precarious, ephemeral, or ambivalent; when documentation of its experience is not interred in an edifice; and when its histories fall within contested constructions of "heritage." For those for whom land and history are the basis of struggle, architecture may act as an instrument of power, transcendence, oppression, or resistance; it may act as the trace of the past in the absence of documentary legitimacy. In this discussion, we will think on how, and with what ramifications.

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi is an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, Barnard College, Columbia University. Her work examines modernity, urbanism, and migration, with focus on African and South Asian questions. Her book manuscript, Architecture of Migration, analyzes the history, visual rhetoric, and spatial politics of the Dadaab refugee camps in northeastern Kenya. She is coeditor of the volume Spatial Violence (Routledge, 2016), and her writing appears in several journals, including the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Journal of Architecture, Grey Room, e-flux Architecture, and The Funambulist. She holds a Ph.D. in the history of art and archaeology, and a master of architecture degree and professional license. She practiced architecture in Bangalore and New York City, and her professional background includes work for the Women's Refugee Commission.

Samia Henni received her Ph.D. in the history and theory of architecture (with distinction) from ETH Zurich. Her teaching and research interests include the history and theory of the built environments in relation to colonialism, displacement, gender, Islam, and wars from the first European colonization to the present. She is the author of the award-winning Architecture of Counterrevolution: The French Army in Northern Algeria (gta, 2017), the editor of War Zones: gta papers 2 (2018), and the curator of Discreet Violence: Architecture and the French War in Algeria (2017–19).

The Living Room is a student organization whose goal is to create a forum for critical discussion and debate about architecture today. This is our final installment of the Living Room this semester.