Critical Historiography

Helena Mattsson

Project Period: 2012-2014
Type: Senior Research Project
Program Area(s): Critical Historiography


In contemporary global cultural industry the role of architecture, and its history, has taken new forms and meanings. Discourses around architecture, as for example “the history” of architecture, could today almost be seen as a commodity on sale, which creates images that are globally mediated. That history has been used in the production and marketing of architecture is not a new phenomenon, but it has developed into new strategies and forms. To understand these new terrains, created by the contemporary economical order, we need to re-think the role of architectural history and historiography.

It is a fact that the status of history as an independent subject in the schools of architecture is widely discussed and reassessed today, both in international and national contexts: How does history relate to practice? What is the relevance for history and theory in the production? This situation stresses the importance of developing a critical view upon the use and role of history in architecture.

In this context critical historiography implies the intention to go beyond the tradition of architecture and the historiography of the Western world. Critical historiography takes architectural theory and history into a wider scope of themes, as the contemporary global economy, migrations, and local segregation, the construction and use of heritage. The built environment is to a large extent constructed through the use of history, as well as the identity of the profession is created through collective memories and historiography. History as a fundamental force in processes of creating ideology, politics and identity needs to be uncovered continuously, and this framework aims at formulating theories and methods doing that. The relation between historiography of architecture and production of architecture, should be rethought in the new conditions formulated be the global cultural industry.

Researcher(s) Bio and Publications