Architectures of Gender - Care Work

Seminar Architekturtheorie (052-0817-18)
Veranstalter: Gastdozentur Lange
Dozierende: Dr. Torsten Lange, Dr. Gabrielle Schaad
Zeit: Montags, 10:00–11:45
Ort: HIL E 10.1

Care work is at once omnipresent and invisible. It encompasses all forms of socially necessary – or reproductive – labour: raising children, cooking, cleaning, shopping, looking after the ill and elderly, and many other tasks typically performed by women on a daily basis both at home and within society. It is what allows for, and sustains, productive labour (including architectural labour) in the first place. At the same time, capitalist accumulation relies on care work to be freely available. Regardless of its social, material, and monetary value, care work hence not only remains unpaid. It is also frequently pushed out of sight. Much like nature, it is presumed to be a given; its performance by women often justified in biological terms by alluding to the more caring, nurturing female character or body.

In recent years, both the concept of care and care work have become central concerns in feminist academic and political debates. Demographic changes, environmental crises, growing mobility, transformations of labour, and the reconfiguration of “traditional” institutions of care – from the nuclear family to welfare state provisions – have sparked fresh critical analyses and theoretical enquiries. Prominent thinkers such as Nancy Fraser even speak of a contemporary “crisis of care” brought about by neoliberal capitalism, as we struggle to invest the labour necessary for maintaining social bonds beyond social media, and care work becomes increasingly outsourced and monetized.

Our aim in this seminar is to reassess notions of care work – both past and present – and discuss their significance for architecture and the man-made environment in a broad sense. Asking, for example, how housing impacts housework, we are going to examine the ways in which certain spatial arrangements from the domestic to the urban realm help to (re-)produce social relationships that neglect the significance of care work. But we will also study architectural proposals that have sought to imagine collective forms of care. Moreover, we are interested in the historical development of models, typologies, and spaces dedicated to care (almshouses, hospitals, care homes, hospices…). And we will ask, why in architectural design care and maintenance often remain an afterthought.

Weekly close readings of theoretical and historical texts, as well as guest lectures, will provide the knowledge necessary to furnish critical tools for a series of “fieldwork” analyses.

ETH blog "Architectures of Gender"
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Download Syllabus 

"Fieldwork" Gender Mainstreaming and Urban Policy - Vienna vs. Zurich
"Fieldwork" Housing Models: Care Work/Reproductive Labour
"Fieldwork" Technology and Automation in the Home
"Fieldwork" Care Provisions: Lighthouse Foundation Zurich
"Fieldwork" Disability and Care
"Fieldwork" Infrastructure and Maintenance: The Example of D-ARCH, ETHZ

24.09.2018 Introduction: Care Work and Architecture
Nancy Fraser, “Contradictions of Capital and Care” (2016) 
Catharina Gabrielsson, “The Critical Potential of Housework” (2018) 

01.10.2018 Housework – Housewives?
Silvia Federici, “Wages Against Housework” (1975)
Dolores Hayden, “What Would a Non-Sexist City Be Like” (1980) 

08.10.2018 Electrifying Care – Promises and Pitfalls
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, “The ‘Industrial Revolution’ in the Home: Household Technology and Social Change in the 20th Century” (1976) 
Margalit Fox / Amisha Padnani, “Francis Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101” / “The House That Did The Housework” (2017) 

15.10.2018 Dis-/ordinary Figures
Ingrid Böck, “Montage: Maison à Bordeaux, France 1994–1998” (2015) 

29.10.2018 Dis/abilities and Design public roundtable discussion
Jos Boys, “Invisibility Work? How Starting from Dis/ability Challenges Normative Social, Spatial and Material Practices” (2018) 
No Anger, “Strolling into Imaginaries. When the Constitution of Space Produces Disabled Bodies” (2018) 

05.11.2018 Care Provisions
Guest lecture: Britta Hentschel, “Why Do We Care? Architecture and Social Responsibility in Early Modern Europe”
Britta Hentschel, "Frühneuzeitliche Kinder in Not" (2018) 
John Henderson, "The Renaissance Hospital in Italy" (2006) 

12.11.2018 Emotional Economies and Migration
Rhacel Salazar Parreñas and Rachel Silvey, “Not One of the Family. The Tight Spaces of Migrant Domestic Workers” (2015) 

19.11.2018 Infrastructures and Maintenance
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an exhibition CARE” (1969/2011) 
Daniela K. Rosner, “Making Citizens, Reassembling Devices: On Gender and the Development of Contemporary Public Sites of Repair in Northern California” (2013)

26.11.2018 Ecologies of Care
Kim Trogal, “Caring: Making Commons, Making Connections” (2017) 

03.12.2018 Final Presentations "Fieldwork"


Dr. Torsten Lange
Dr. Gabrielle Schaad