ERC Project - Women Writing Architecture 1700-1900
 Instagram / Twitter / Email

Coming soon

“Chosen women” (sg. aclla, pl. acllacuna). Illustration from “El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno,” the chronicle of Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, a Quechua nobleman, published in 1615. Public domain.

Mapa del Tahuantinsuyo published by Horacio Urteaga in 1926. Gallica archive.  

S11 – Women Making Space in South America, c.1400-1900

Chaired by Anne Hultzsch and Sol Pérez Martínez, ETH Zurich
EAHN 2024 Conference Athens, 19-23 Jun 2024

The period between 1400 and 1900 in South America is characterised by a set of transitions and processes of transculturation as indigeneity emerged from the clash with colonisation. Empires competed, indigenous cultures grappled with European colonisation, and both later fed into American nation building. This session focuses on the period between the creation of the Tawantinsuyu, the Incan Realm of the Four Parts, in 1438, thus the definition of Andean territory as a continuous region, to the 1880s when the Mapuche people in Southern Chile and Argentina were the last indigenous group to lose control over their territories. The session aims to address gaps in the architectural historiography of the Andean region especially regarding moments of transition where ‘cultures meet, clash and grapple with each other’ creating ‘contact zones’ (Pratt, 1991). We seek to start these new histories through the perspective of women – from any class or ethnicity – as one of the groups often excluded from scholarship on the period. We ask how those identifying as women influenced, shaped, critiqued, and made spaces within and alongside the force field of the contact zone, with its asymmetrical power relations, its struggles, pains, and opportunities?

Challenging linear Euro-American architectural narratives of styles imported to the supposed new world, we invite contributions exploring the role of women in shaping public and private spaces in the Andean territories – from home and convent to street and plaza. Practices to be examined for female space-making opportunities could include, for example, building, homemaking, designing, writing, patronage, financing, teaching, lobbying, gardening, or farming, even mothering. Contributions should explore questions emerging from the triangle between gender, architectures, and South America as a contact zone. What are the spatial categories most useful when exploring women ‘making space’ in the period and region (Matrix, 1984)? Does the public-private dichotomy of separate spheres serve here? What sources provide evidence how women made space? Which writing techniques yield the best results, from archival tracing to historical fiction? How can we fill gaps when there are few traces (Hartman, 2021)?

Besides a methodological appeal for new approaches, the session also queries key terminologies of architectural history: Who is the space-maker during this period? What is the relationship between space-making and the architect? Did the professionalisation of architecture during the 19th century further the exclusion of women from space-making practices? Was there a period of increased access colonial or institutional transitions closed doors to women? Are there comparable developments in other regions?

This session hopes to facilitate a pivotal change to how we look at the formation of architectural cultures in the past through the eyes of women and their lived experiences, considering questions of race, class, or religion, besides those of gender. As scholarship in the field of Latin American architectural history has so far often been dominated by isolated time periods defined by the male coloniser – such as pre-colonial, colonial, post-colonial, modernism – the proposed period between c. 1400 and 1900 invites cross-readings based on dynamic approaches to historical moments, places, and protagonists.

Information about the session can be found here:

Group Anne Hultzsch
Department of Architecture / gta
ETH Zurich

HIL D 72.2
Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5
8093 Zurich