Dartmouth Events

Symposium: What Happens in the Field?

A conversation on fieldwork in the built environment.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024
3:30pm – 5:30pm
Carpenter 201C
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Arts, Lectures & Seminars

In this symposium, architectural historians, anthropologists, and architects will reflect on their experiences of fieldwork in different contexts of building, advocacy, and infrastructural politics in Ghana, New Jersey, and Haiti. Though solutionist mandates for research presuppose the questions that scholars and designers ask of the built environment, this conversation will instead concentrate on unanticipated inquiries and learning processes that emerge from firsthand engagement with the built environment and the myriad actors that attend to it. In doing so, the symposium hedges that fieldwork in the built environment is an ineluctably participatory practice. For those who undertake fieldwork, this can mean participating in contestations over historical knowledge and advocacy for spatial and environmental justice. This can also mean participating in the openings and pathways that the built environment affords and forecloses, be they physical spaces and built forms, or invisible spatial boundaries and fleeting sensory registers. Such encounters are neither benign nor predictable in where they lead. Indeed, if participant observation interweaves the life trajectories of observer and observed, what kinds of participation does sustained engagement with the built environment engender?


Irene Brisson, Louisiana State University, College of Art and Design

Brenda Chalfin, University of Florida, Anthropology and Center for African Studies

Anita Bakshi, Rutgers University, Landscape Architecture


Vyjayanthi Rao, Yale University, School of Architecture

Sponsored by the Society of Fellows, the Department of Art History, and the Department of Anthropology. Organized by Curt Gambetta (Society of Fellows & Art History) in collaboration with Vyjayanthi Rao.



For more information, contact:
Samantha Potter

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.