Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades
- Architect's Best Book of 2005
252 pp., 7 x 9 in, 20 b&w photos
- Published: October 14, 2005
- Published: September 28, 2007
How outlaw "spatial products"—resorts, information technology campuses, retail chains, golf courses, and ports—act as cunning pawns in global politics.
In Enduring Innocence, Keller Easterling tells the stories of outlaw "spatial products"—resorts, information technology campuses, retail chains, golf courses, ports, and other hybrid spaces that exist outside normal constituencies and jurisdictions—in difficult political situations around the world. These spaces—familiar commercial formulas of retail, business, and trade—aspire to be worlds unto themselves, self-reflexive and innocent of politics. But as Easterling shows, in reality these enclaves can become political pawns and objects of contention. Jurisdictionally ambiguous, they are imbued with myths, desires, and symbolic capital. Their hilarious and dangerous masquerades often mix quite easily with the cunning of political platforms. Easterling argues that the study of such "real estate cocktails" provides vivid evidence of the market's weakness, resilience, or violence.
Enduring Innocence collects six stories of spatial products and their political predicaments: cruise ship tourism in North Korea; high-tech agricultural formations in Spain (which have reignited labor wars and piracy in the Mediterranean); hyperbolic forms of sovereignty in commercial and spiritual organizations shared by gurus and golf celebrities; automated global ports; microwave urbanism in South Asian IT enclaves; and a global industry of building demolition that suggests urban warfare. These regimes of nonnational sovereignty, writes Easterling, "move around the world like weather fronts"; she focuses not on their blending—their global connectivity—but on their segregation and the cultural collisions that ensue.Enduring Innocence resists the dream of one globally legible world found in many architectural discourses on globalization. Instead, Easterling's consideration of these segregated worlds provides new tools for practitioners sensitive to the political composition of urban landscapes.
No one in the world excavates the politics linking globalization and architecture with the elegance and power of Keller Easterling. This vitally important book reveals like no other the deep plays of politics and power which shape today's sprawling and globally connected urban landscapes. A tour of franchises, logistics complexes, and technoparks, of offshore trade zones, airports, and erased downtowns, Enduring Innocence is a truly indispensable critique of the 21st-century landscapes of turbo-capitalism.
Stephen Graham, University of Durham
A bracing and timely approach.... It frees us from the bankrupt notion that, as designers, we can merely venture to consider ethics and aesthetics as zero-sum alternatives.
Thomas de Monchaux
[Easterling] successfully shows how organizational logics are providing generic specification for assembling spaces for North Korean tourism, Spanish high-tech agricultural landscapes, East Asian container ports, Indian IT (information technology) campuses, golf courses, retail franchises, pirates, and terrorism around the world.
Journal of Architectural Education
Keller Easterling's Enduring Innocence charts a tour of the guilty pleasures of post-global network protocols.... Keller Easterling makes global capital palpable.
Enduring Innocence is a subtle and poetic mediation on the state of the contemporary world. The book exhibits the author's virtuosity in sifting through diverse landscapes.... The many urbanisms thus exposed provide us with a precise and complex platform for unraveling the nature of the global everyday.
... Enduring Innocence is truly a tour de force tour-guide for today because it doesn't wield its case studies and field trips as paradigms that we should all now imitate (or even, morally avoid). Don't bother looking for a contemporary Acropolis. It isn't here. There is no easy prescription in Easterling's parables. No clear moral waters to wade through in the knowledge that it's only a Disney ride, that the sharks won't bite, and the mermaids will triumph.
Enduring Innocence makes three contributions to architectural discourse and more broadly to critical enquiry. It brings a new perspective to both visible and invisible objects, articulates a methodology commensurate with the questions posed, and speculates on the multiple guises that politically informed architectural intervention might take.
Building Research & Information
Keller Easterling combines an ironic view of architecture with a series of brilliant offshore observations that signal the new global affair between construction and destruction. Her book is a dazzling antidote to the reigning pieties about globalization, and should be read by any serious student of global places, flows, and forms.
Arjun Appadurai, John Dewey Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences, The New School, and author of Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization