Curt Gambetta

|Research Associate
Academic Appointments
  • Society of Fellows

  • Lecturer

Curt Gambetta is an architectural historian and designer with research interests in the history and politics of building materials, modern South Asia, fieldwork in the built environment, and the spatial politics of waste. His current book project, Mold House, Mud House, Marble House: Substitution and House Making in Postcolonial India, examines the widespread substitution of imported and inaccessible materials in the production of housing in postcolonial India. Combining ethnography, archival research, and oral history, the project shows how state and industry-led efforts to democratize access to housing tied everyday material practices to claims to India's economic and political self-reliance. Focusing on the making of earthen substitutes for concrete and image-based substitutes for marble, it argues that the production of materials has been understood as a process of self-making that would lead to individual and national self-reliance. At the same time, the book shows how scientists, architects, engineers, artists, middlemen, and other actors make use of substitution to put pressure on ideologies of postcolonial citizenship, neoliberal self-governance, and environmental responsibility.

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Carpenter, Room 307
HB 6033


Art History


  • BA Vassar College
  • MArch Rice University
  • MA Princeton University
  • PhD Princeton University

Selected Publications

  • "Field Observations" (with Hadas Steiner) and "Garbage Building" in Radical Pedagogies, ed. Beatriz Colomina et al., MIT Press, (2022)

  • "Throwaway Houses: Garbage Housing and the politics of ownership" in The Culture of Nature in the History of Design, edited by Kjetil Fallan, Routledge (2019)

  • "Authoring Materials" in Discourse 1, ed. Monica Ponce De Leon, Princeton University Press (2019)

  • Streetscapes: a symposium on the future of the street, guest editor (with Ritajyoti Bandyopadhyay), Seminar India 636 (2012)

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Selected Works & Activities

  • Liquid Landscapes, with Mario Gandelsonas, São Paulo Architecture Biennial, São Paulo, Brazil (2019)

  • The Assembly of Trash, The University at Buffalo/CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, New York (2012

  • Office Light, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas (2011–2012)