Radical politics of non-arrival on a planet of tenements

Freitag, 01. März 2024 - 19:00 Uhr

ÖGFA - Österreichische Gesellschaft für Architektur
Ort: Depot. Kunst und Diskussion

Nitin Bathla Nitin Bathla
Nitin Bathla: Radical politics of non-arrival on a planet of tenements

150 years since Friedrich Engels authored his groundbreaking thesis on the housing question, its relevance today has only intensified. With urbanization extending its planetary reach, the interconnection is now more global than ever. The nature of contemporary capitalism and urbanization, driven by the pursuit of inexpensive land and labor, establishes conditions where millions of peasants are compelled to become migrant workers, and the construction of densely populated worker tenement settlements functions as carceral architectures, ensuring their exploitation as a perpetually temporary workforce.

Historically, cities worldwide, including Berlin, New York, London, and Vienna, have been built upon a foundation of tenements. However, what defines the current moment in urban history is the migrants' radical politics of non-arrival as a means to escape capture and exploitation. Whether it's the so-called migrant ghettos around agricultural plantations in Southern Europe, worker tenements near garment and automobile manufacturing units in South and Southeast Asia, construction worker settlements at architectural building sites in the speculative environments of Singapore and the Middle East, or around mining and extraction sites in Africa and South America, migrants navigate these spaces as itinerants rather than seeking a permanent settlement—an aspect further accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This discussion explores the convergences and divergences between tenement and migration histories in previous stages of urban development in the global north and amid ongoing planetary urbanization. Drawing on reflections from extensive engagement with migrant communities in India and Italy, the talk emphasizes the role of architecture and built environment professionals in collaborating with, rather than opposing, migrant struggles. It underscores the agency these professionals possess to positively contribute to the challenges faced by migrants in the complex and evolving landscape of global urbanization.

Nitin Bathla is a lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Architecture, ETH Zürich, where he coordinates the doctoral program at the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies. He lectures on urban studies, and political ecology, and his current research focuses on agrarian questions under the planetary age. In his academic practice, Nitin actively combines research with artistic practices of filmmaking, and socially engaged art. His 2020 film Not Just Roads with Klearjos E. Papanicolaou premiered at several important film festivals and won the SAH Film Award 2022.


Ameisen Urbanismus
Vortrag, Migration, Wohnen, Nitin Bathla
Freitag, 01.03. 19:00
ÖGFA - Österreichische Gesellschaft für Architektur

Depot. Kunst und Diskussion
Breite Gasse 3
1070 Wien
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