Being a ‘critique of architecture’, Douglas Spencer’s new essay collection is ‘necessarily part and parcel of the critique of capitalism’ (190) as well. This is because architecture provides exemplary material for a critique of capital’s material(-ised) ideology – a critique that sets ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’ not as two separate units unilaterally determined but as a fundamentally reciprocal relationship. As David Cunningham writes in his foreword: ‘Positioned in complex ways between the “infrastructural” and “superstructural”, and consequently mediating between them, architecture is, it may be argued, a privileged site for an interrogation of the productive operations of capital.’ (15) Understanding architecture in this way, Spencer questions not only the positivist, affirmative or immersive takes of his discipline but also its alternatives – like Fredric Jameson’s neo-Althusserian quasi-mystification of the economic sphere as something theoretically impenetrable yet allegorically catchable. Hence, with its persistent counter-hegemonic sensitivities, Spencer’s book is an excellent specimen of critical theory. With it, he is seated between the early Frankfurt School, highly complex Marxisms and critical architectural theory. Accordingly, the essays in the volume are historically finetuned to the developments of the present and its continuities with the past: from the (late) Fordist ‘production of the producer’ (203) to the neoliberal ‘politics of depoliticization’ (101).

Review of Douglas Spencer's 'Critique of Architecture'

Lukas Meisner
2021

Abstract

Being a ‘critique of architecture’, Douglas Spencer’s new essay collection is ‘necessarily part and parcel of the critique of capitalism’ (190) as well. This is because architecture provides exemplary material for a critique of capital’s material(-ised) ideology – a critique that sets ‘base’ and ‘superstructure’ not as two separate units unilaterally determined but as a fundamentally reciprocal relationship. As David Cunningham writes in his foreword: ‘Positioned in complex ways between the “infrastructural” and “superstructural”, and consequently mediating between them, architecture is, it may be argued, a privileged site for an interrogation of the productive operations of capital.’ (15) Understanding architecture in this way, Spencer questions not only the positivist, affirmative or immersive takes of his discipline but also its alternatives – like Fredric Jameson’s neo-Althusserian quasi-mystification of the economic sphere as something theoretically impenetrable yet allegorically catchable. Hence, with its persistent counter-hegemonic sensitivities, Spencer’s book is an excellent specimen of critical theory. With it, he is seated between the early Frankfurt School, highly complex Marxisms and critical architectural theory. Accordingly, the essays in the volume are historically finetuned to the developments of the present and its continuities with the past: from the (late) Fordist ‘production of the producer’ (203) to the neoliberal ‘politics of depoliticization’ (101).
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3754361
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