MA PROGRAMME

INTRODUCTION TO THE MA PROGRAMME 

The MA programme is for suitably qualified graduates from a range of disciplines wishing to pursue studio-based spatial research in the context of theoretical work. The MA programme has been developed to allow you to combine theoretical research with critical spatial practice. Lectures, seminars and workshops will equip you with a rigorous grounding in critical spatial theory. This theoretical course provides a thorough coverage of the historical, philosophical and technological aspects of space and power. This programme is oriented to graduates who want to undertake training in research architecture before proceeding to PhD study, or to pursue or enhance a career in the spatial practices. The MA is available over one year (full-time) and two years (part-time).

 

STRUCTURE OF THE MA PROGRAMME

The MA is a theory/practice programme organised around a single major spatial research project. The project, including aspects of both practice and theory, actively engages with spatial research and concentrates on a distinct issue, process or site. This project forms the core of the MA dissertation, which you submit at the end of the programme. A series of seminars, workshops and lectures will provide you with the necessary and stimulating information and create a forum for discussion on contemporary approaches and theories in architectural and spatial research. The MA Dissertation is centered on a year long project. This project, responding to a general yearly brief, involves investigative research that culminates in either a long essay or a visual project.

 

2012-2013 CRA MARA RESEARCH BRIEF

The Anthropogenic Unconscious

This brief considers the reclassification of our current geological era as the anthropocene, a term which calls attention to the fact that the environment is inseparable from the impact of human inhabitation. The blurring of the division between the human and the environment calls into question traditional binaries such as city and countryside, natural and man-made disasters, built space and nature. The era of the anthropogenic is considered responsible for the ravages of climate change and global warming; and yet on the flip side it also marks the era in which landmark legal claims for the rights of nature are being constituted in places like Ecuador. The anthropogenic unconscious considers to what extent this blurring has already become a part of the infrastructure of the environment and the way it is used and perceived of so as to seem second nature. To what extent has the anthropocene permeated the everyday so that even though it has a real impact, it is barely registered? Or what are the ways that calling attention to this term reveals patterns and practices in warfare, disaster relief, environmental and activism that already exist? Though anthropogenic change exists outside of international frameworks designed to regulate violence in war, the current conflict over carbon and its potential impact on developing nations manifests as a structural violence, this time wholly existing within - and legitimated by international institutions. The prospect of having ‘relief and aid workers’ dedicated to environmental protection in war torn zones, or the potential establishment of an criminal court with mandate to persecute crimes against nature does not mean that nature is gradually being pushed outside spaces of conflict, but precisely the opposite. By inscribing the ‘natural environment’ inside the courts, codes and practices of international humanitarian law, these legal and material measures reveal an ever deeper incorporation of nature into the means and methods by which violence – physical, economic, or environmental, is withheld or deployed. The anthropogenic unconscious as a mode of inquiry therefore calls attention to the material and immaterial effects of the environment it reconstitutes. In other words the notion of material environment is inextricable from its invisible absorption into the unconscious of the current era. This moves away from modernist critiques of the invisibleness of capitalism via concepts like hegemony, the collective unconscious and interpellation towards a more material, environmental understanding of how such unconscious substructures might operate through human rights contexts, for example in the constitution of subjects, the environment, the effects of the law, modes of warfare, body politics and biometrics, extra linguistic modes of communication and built space. The focus of this brief then is to consider what impact the shift marked by the anthropogenic unconscious has had on ways of knowing the environment. In its re-evaluation of what the geologic is, the anthropocene calls into question epistemic systems such as natural history and taxonomy on the side of nature, and of archaeology, techniques of visualization and the archive on the side of human civilization. The first task then is to first consider in what ways can we consider techniques of knowing after this recalibration. And the second task is to consider how that epistemic shift can lead to a method that can make sense of these elements as part of the same study. What are experimental ways of writing/making/imaging/sounding that can take into account a differently constituted, knowing subject and an environment that is characterized by its material and immaterial qualities.