History is almost always written by the victors and conquerors and gives their view.
— Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, 1946
History is not a simple meritocracy: it is a narrative of the past written and revised — or not written at all — by people with agendas.
— Despina Stratigakos, Places Journal, 2013
Places Journal is seeking articles that write women and their experiences into the history of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design.
The past year has seen the rise of a recharged women’s movement. Galvanized by the 2016 election, women have been organizing protest marches, running for political office, and forging new solidarity in the #MeToo campaign. Deeply reported articles have exposed decades of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in diverse professions — including architecture.
In this moment of heightened awareness, we are newly inspired by Despina Stratigakos’s essay “Unforgetting Women Architects: From the Pritzker to Wikipedia,” published here in 2013. As Stratigakos wrote:
The reasons we forget women architects are varied and complex. Until recently, historians assumed that there were no female practitioners before the mid-20th century and so they did not bother to look. Nor was it likely that they would stumble upon these designers by chance, given that traditional research methods focus on archives and libraries, institutions that have been slow to collect women’s work. … Few archives wanted their papers, and as these women passed away, decades of drawings, plans, and records ended up in the trash. As a result, anyone seeking to learn about their lives and careers has had to be inventive and eclectic in their use of sources in order to supplement the archival documentation conventionally understood as the historian’s primary materials.
Since it was first published, “Unforgetting Women Architects” has motivated numerous Wikipedia edit-a-thons and been expanded into the book Where Are the Women Architects?. Now we want to continue the exploration — to encourage “inventive and eclectic” approaches to telling the untold stories of women in architecture.
We welcome articles about overlooked women throughout history and up to the present. We especially welcome narratives in which the monographic focus on individual artistic genius is challenged — and perhaps replaced by the more expansive framing of a collaborative enterprise. Just as important, we are interested in stories that grapple with difficult causes, deeper structures. For to write women into design history is inevitably to reckon not only with neglected careers but also with cultural norms and hierarchical practices that work to reinforce the status quo. It is a ripe opportunity to scrutinize the dominant narratives of success and power, and to examine the deep-seated biases that have enabled the forgetting of women architects.
This is an open call with no time limit and no restrictions on genre or format. We welcome proposals or finished manuscripts from scholars, journalists, essayists, designers, and artists. For more information, please read our Submission Guidelines.