Sebastian Buser (UCL) - 2019-20 Students

Trans-Architectural History of the Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Cafe (WANC)

Transgender visibility has increased in Britain in recent years, however, the discipline of architectural history still lacks a transgender perspective both in method and subject matter. This research proposes to develop an innovative transgender approach to the practice of architectural history by focusing on the unexamined history of the Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Café (WANC) which took place across London from 1998-2012. This DIY-café space operated out of several squats and autonomous spaces. A radical alternative queer space it offered room for political discussions, performances, workshops exploring gender and negotiated the presence of transmen. This research aims to draw connections between the politics and transitional spaces of WANC and that of the transitioning body, asking how transgender embodiment can provide an expanded perspective on, and critique of, architectural history and practice. This research adopts theories of ‘trans-ing’ to practice architectural history. In 2008 transwas conceived as a relational term (Stryker et al.), broadening transgender discourse by connecting with suffixes other than gender. As a figure of movement, process orientated with a non-linear focus, ‘transing’ is conceptualised as ‘both assemblage and disassemblage, as folded into structures of power as well as a movement of becoming’ (Taylor & Schaffer 2008). Work developed by feminist historians (Rendell et al. 2000) and queer theorists (Bonnevier 2007) has deconstructed binary oppositions and the seemingly stable condition of architecture to look at the spaces between. Yet there remains a paucity of transgender conceptions of architecture (Gourney & Heuvel 2017) employing the concept of ‘transing’ to further de-essentialise its fixity. This research proposes a departure from feminist and queer deconstructions of dualisms and to mobilise ‘transing’ to produce an empirically informed and co-produced trans-architectural history.

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