C-A-P-I-T-A-L-I-S-M — Architecture Beyond Capitalism school (ABC) 2021

  • How does architecture represent, circulate, and transform capital? In what ways is capitalism fueled by architecture and vice versa?
  • How and why has/does/is capitalist architecture rooted in or resulted in injustice, exploitation, and extraction? (race, class, gender, land, climate-based injustice) 
  • What might architecture without capitalism look like? What steps are required to get there?

Presentations by:

Ana María León, Assistant Professor, University of Michigan, and Andrew Herscher, Professor, University of Michigan; co-founders of Settler Colonial City Project

Raj Patel, Research Professor, University of Texas, Austin and a Senior Research Associate, Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa

Huda Tayob, Senior Lecturer, University of Cape Town; co-curator, Race, Space, & Architecture

Mathew Soules, Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Coordinated by: 

Peggy Deamer, Priyanka Shah, Xinyi Xie

Reading/Hearing/Viewing for this Theme


1. Manthia Diawara, Édouard Glissant: One World in Relation [Relevant to presentation by Ana Maria Leon and Andrew Herscher]

2. Mike Davis, “Chapter 9, “The Origins of the Third World,” In Late Victorian Holocausts, 281-310 (here)  [Relevant to presentation by Raj Patel]

3. Achille Mbembe, “The Idea of a Borderless World,” Chimurenga Chronic (here and here)  [Relevant to presentation by Huda Tayob]

4. Fredric Jameson, “The Brick and the Balloon: Architecture, Idealism and Land Speculation,” New Left Review 228 (March – April, 1998): 25-46. (here) [Relevant to presentation by Matthew Soules]


1. Ana María Léon and Andrew Herscher, “At the Border of Decolonization,” E-Flux: At the Border (here

2. Raj Patel, “On Seven Cheap Things”: Introduction to A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (here)

3. Mike Davis and Daniel Bertrand Monk, Introduction to  Evil Paradises: Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism (here)

4. Matthew Soules, “Finance Capitalism and Architecture,” in Icebergs, Zombies, and the Ultra Thin (here)

5. Ananya Roy, “At the Limits of Urban Theory: Racial Banishment in the Contemporary City” (here)



Power map the organizations, institutions, lenders, and regulators that get an object (could be small, like your ear pods, could be large, like your apartment) you desire into your possession.

Power Mapping

A power map is typically used to figure out who you need to influence, how to influence them, and who can do the influencing in order to reach a specific goal. It can take the route of charting power (economic, political, cultural/social) relationships at many scales and relationships, between individuals, in communities, organizations, organizations, institutions and countries to produce intentional points of influence and intervention to achieve a desired goal.

Power mapping is a visual exercise to map out relationships between people, organizations, and institutions in a given context in order to understand the value of these relationships.

For this first assignment in the ABC Summer School, we will be “power mapping” an object of your choosing and tracing the relationships, organizations, institutions, lenders, regulators and any other entities that enable (or hinder) your possession of this object.

The techniques of power mapping, demonstrated in the examples linked above, should be referenced for guidance. Your power map of your chosen object can take many forms—vectored bubble diagrams, a matrix, floating/related labels, a family tree (or forest of trees)—really anything that diagrams in a visual way your observations regarding the power relationships embedded in your chosen object.

It helps to keep in mind that there are different types and degrees of power and of relationships. To represent these hierarchies, you would deploy your formal/graphic-skill set in critical ways to call out the different types of organizations and relationships. If your mapping calls for a high-level narrative there should be something uniquely revelatory to account for the lack of detail of nuance. The exercise is meant to reverse the flattening of social and political context around the consideration of objects that architectural pedagogy has typically encouraged. Above all this exercise should be smart and fun!