22 January 2006

on empire (1)

I'VE JUST STARTED READING Empire, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's 2000 book on the ascendancy of a supranational order and all of its political, cultural, social ramifications. After coming across the text several times during various research projects (not to mention the countless -- and often clueless -- references to the book during reviews and lectures while at school), I decided to give it a close reading. I'm especially anticipating the final section of the book, in which Hardt and Negri propose various models for opposition to the global order of Empire. (Their 2004 follow-up, Multitude, apparently picks up where Empire leaves off and continues the discussion of tactics of resistance and democratic alternatives to Empire.)

I've also been reading up a lot on the (very) current debates going in academic architectural circles on the validity of "criticality" in contemporary theory and practice. You can guess on which side of the aisle I sit with regard to architecture's capacity (imperative?) to critique the status quo (and thus imagine a better future) -- but let's not get into that just yet. Part of my goal in reading Empire is to test the relevance of Hardt and Negri's political analysis to architectural discourse. In other words: can architecture both take part in and resist/subvert/undermine the power structures of globalization? What form would such an architecture take?

Expect more posts as I further sort out my thoughts... For now, I'll leave you with a quote from the authors' preface to Empire:

Our political task, we will argue, is not simply to resist these processes but to reorganize them and redirect them toward new ends. The creative forces of the multitude that sustain Empire are also capable of autonomously constructing a counter-Empire, an alternative political organization of global flows and exchanges. (Empire, p. xv)
link: Michael Hardt on Wikipedia
link: Antonio Negri on Wikipedia

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