The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for its 74th Annual International Conference in Montréal, Canada, April 14–18, 2021
Architecture of Extraction in the Atlantic World
In the early modern Atlantic World, a number of cities and regions in the colonial Americas experienced a growth in population and material wealth as a consequence of mining, agricultural, and manufacturing industries. This prosperity required a built environment in which to grow and flourish. Extraction impelled construction from buildings and technologies indispensable for the mining and processing of natural resources (silver refining plants, sugar mills, boiling houses, water infrastructures) to constructions dedicated to their storage, commercial exchange, and coining (mints, treasuries, market spaces, custom houses). Such colonial industries comprised another complementary architectural body: the residential quarters of those who labored in or benefited from this landscape of extraction (slave barracks, sheds, country houses of planters and mine-owners, etc.), and the infrastructures designed to provide some modicum of physical and spiritual wellbeing (hospitals, churches.)
Recent scholarship has reconsidered the multifaceted history of the agricultural and mining industry in colonial Spanish America from the perspective of its capitalist production and global economic transformation, its impact on the shaping of urban communities, the cultural production that emerged from mining districts, and the environmental degradation caused by some industries. Less attention has been given to the architecture and infrastructures that shaped and were shaped by this landscape of extraction. There is a need, furthermore, to examine the built environment of Atlantic World extraction in a global and comparative context, considering the function of this architecture and how it was lived and experienced by multiple human actors. This session examines the constitution of extractionary landscapes as systems and material networks that brought people, space, and labor together in the project of harvesting raw materials, refining, exchanging, and thereby generating value in the world market and within local economies.
Session Chairs: Luis Gordo-Peláez, California State University, Fresno; and Paul Niell, Florida State University.