Sessions Report Pacific Spaces
Organizers: Albert L. Refiti and Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul
Our final session was productive and the papers presented mostly close to publication. Papers were presented by Albert Refiti & Ross Jenner (“Zombie Architecture: Sacrifice in Polynesian and European buildings”, reading European and Pacific spaces of sacrifice against each other), Mike Austin (Open architecture –about an architectural anthropology of the phenomenon of openness in Pacific architecture), Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul (Travelling houses: Translation, change and ambivalence – about the movements of Pacific buildings through different sites, contexts and epistemic worlds), Athol Greentree (The junction of the tala and the itu – an ethnography of the Samoan fale tele as a building, its construction and crafting, structures and origins, cosmological connections and ontologies), Mimi George (Lata at the Entryway: Transpersonal Wayfinding on a Vaka o Lata – about the relationships between space, technology, movement, experience and affect in Taumako voyaging and wayfinding), Jeremy Treadwell on Skype (The 19th Century Whare Māori: The Culture of Structure – about construction, both technical and cultural, and a little known structural configuration of some 19th century wharenui ), and Jake Culbertson via Skype (“Carving costs nothing”: Māori woodcarvers train wage-laborers how to show up to work on time–about the social and affectual space of the House of Knots, workshop and wharenui of sorts in an old shoe factory, in the New Zealand neoliberal economy).
There were shared themes, such as a correspondence between structural and formal elements and a whakapapa or mafua‘aga that grounds and informs technological and socio-aesthetic practices.
Dr. Paige West was present during the whole session and acted as our discussant, giving invaluable feedback and identifying overlaps between the papers beyond those we were already aware of. Themes she picked up on were the visible and the invisible parts of a configuration, the value of juxtaposition and the in-between space it creates, the role of affect in many of the material-oriented papers, and the productiveness of a mutual rubbing of anthropology and architecture, which leads to new shapes, new spaces and new openings in both disciplines. Her comments are very helpful in constructing our proposal for the Berghahn ASAO series, which we are about to submit. Thank you, Paige!