Professor C. Greig Crysler holds the Arcus Chair for Gender, Sexuality and the Built Environment. The chair is named for the Arcus Foundation, a private philanthropic organization founded by CED Department of Architecture graduate Jon Stryker, that advances social justice and conservation issues internationally. As Arcus Chair, Crysler leads an overlapping program of teaching, research and service concerned with activism and the spatial politics of urban life. Two seminars act as exploratory frameworks for Crysler’s research on activism. In the Fall semester, he offers Spatial Politics and the Global City. In the 2016-17 academic year, the course focuses on dispossession, ranging from landscapes of foreclosure and ecologies of risk, to those of legal exception, graduated citizenship and the “undercommons.” The course examines the intersections between neoliberalism and the governmentality of debt, ecological change, and transformations in the public sphere (with specific emphasis on the public university) over the last four decades. Processes of dispossession are traced into urban and architectural conditions defined by displacement, abandonment, and privatization, and examined in relation to the spatial responses of the “new public art,” and a wide range of approaches commonly grouped under “design activism.” The seminar, open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates, is at once a laboratory for rethinking the relationship between theory and practice; a comparative inquiry into the role of space and creative agency in contemporary political dissent; and a context for speculation on the role of ethics in the global present.
Crysler’s second teaching initiative connects diverse, interdisciplinary arguments about queer culture and aesthetics to design, through an innovative series of public events entitled Differences Beyond Recognition (DBR). This programming seeks to contribute to public debate and discussion in the CED about diversity, equity and multiculturalism, by exploring the relational, interconnected and hybrid qualities of cultural identities and their relationship to design. The events are typically anchored around a one-unit colloquium (open to all students and faculty) occurring in the first five weeks of each semester. A film series and related workshops led by Crysler frame lectures by prominent practitioners from diverse fields whose work investigates interconnections between space and the politics of cultural difference in ways that challenges received assumptions and creates openings for new forms of creative practice.
The colloquium was launched in the Spring of 2014 with a sequence of events on queer space and the postcolonial condition. A lecture by the noted author Manil Suri (Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County), and a discussion of his 2013 novel, City of Devi provided the focus for film screenings and a workshop that expanded on the issues raised by his urban satire of queer life, nationalist politics and religion in Mumbai, India. The novelist, architectural educator and critic Lesley Lokko, (Associate Professor, University of Johannesburg) and Shari Stone-Mediatore (Duvall Professor of Philosophy, Ohio Wesleyan University, and a specialist on the politics of knowledge), explored the epistemologies and aesthetics of difference in Suri’s novel, and considered their potential for creative thinking in design. In the 2014-15 academic year, the colloquium connected recent arguments about the Anthropocene, “posthuman” environments and queer ecologies. A series of films and artworks that examine the overlaps between marginalized populations and degraded or threatened landscapes will be discussed in the context of larger debates on ecological politics, led by the critical theorist Adrian Parr (UNESCO Chair of Water Resources at Ohio State University), and Bay Area environmental artists and filmmakers with interests in queer ecologies.
The third aspect of the Arcus Chair concerns outreach and public service. Since 2013, Crysler has worked together with faculty, alums, CED advising staff and Bay Area community partners to coordinate the CED’s new Diversity Platforms Committee. The goal of the committee is to engage faculty, students, staff and alumni in exploring the relational, interconnected and hybrid nature of increasingly globalized identities. Recent initiatives include an innovative partnership with the Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco, that foregrounds interdisciplinary creative work at the intersection of queer theory, activism and cultural production across scales and disciplines, from visual arts, literature and film to architecture and urban design. Other joint initiatives in development include an Emerging Scholars program, designed to join queer student-scholars from institutions across the Bay Area in supportive, open-ended frameworks for intellectual exchange and public debate; the biennial Arcus/Places Scholar in Residence Prize, which brings an innovative scholar working at the intersection of queer theory and the built environment to the CED for a writing residency, culminating in an article published in Places Journal and a lecture at the CED. Alice T. Friedman, the Grace Slack McNeil Professor of American Art at Wellesley College, was the first Arcus/Places Scholar. She presented her essay “Unpacking Queer Old Things: Glamor, Memory and Spatial Imagination” in the CED 2015 Spring lecture series; a related article was published in Places Journal, also in 2015.
- Ph.D., Graduate Program in the History and Theory of Art and Architecture, Binghamton University
- AA, Diploma, Architectural Association School of Architecture
- B.E.S., School of Architecture, University of Waterloo
C. Greig Crysler completed his professional training in architecture at the University of Waterloo, Canada and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, UK. He obtained his Ph.D from the Graduate Program in the History and Theory of Art and Architecture, at Binghamton University in 1999. His research focuses on the theories and practices of architecture, urbanism and the built environment in the context of globalization, activism and the politics of cultural identity. His research is currently divided into two major areas. In the first, he has been concerned with rethinking the histories, epistemologies and practices of architectural theory. His first book, Writing Spaces: Discourses of Architecture, Urbanism and the Built Environment (Routledge, 2003) examines emerging debates on globalization processes and transnational culture, as they emerged in a range of journals between 1960 and 2000, and considers their implications for architectural theory. These arguments are developed further in the Handbook of Architectural Theory (Sage, 2012), which he co-edited with Hilde Heynen and Stephen Cairns. The Handbook contains forty chapters of original research organized thematically around the points of intellectual debate and social change that are reshaping the terrain of contemporary architectural theory. The collection is interdisciplinary and global in outlook, with contributors from diverse geographical, institutional and cultural backgrounds.
The other major of strand of Crysler’s research explores how architecture participates in social forces such as neoliberal globalization, nationalism and nationhood, collective violence and the spatial politics of urban life. He is currently completing a comparative analysis of national memorials and museums organized around representations of collective violence and trauma. The project examines the role of somatic experience, aesthetics and affect in shaping intended and alternative discourses of national citizenship. His concern with situated aesthetics is also explored in a research collaboration with Maria Moreno Carranco, Julie-Ann Boudreau and Guenola Capron, funded through the Mexican government’s Program for Inter-Institutional Collaboration, on the relationship between space and the aesthetics of fear in North American cities. A second major collaboration, with the cultural geographer Shiloh Krupar, entitled Museum of Waste: Capital/Ecology/Sovereignty, investigates the cascading financial and environmental disasters of the last two decades through waste epistemologies and practices. The project builds on scholarship about the Anthropocene, planetary risk, and ecological biopolitics to rethink urban and architectural theory in relation to foreclosed cities, toxic landscapes, and transformed conditions of citizenship.
With the introduction of his seminar Architecture, Ethics and Activism in 2010, Crysler established a new teaching and research focus around questions of social justice, design and difference that draws together many of his prior concerns with spatial politics. He subsequently collaborated with Department of Architecture Professors Crawford and Stoner to develop an annual colloquium that explores the histories, political standpoints, modes of practice and pedagogy associated with what has variously been described as “design activism,” or “public interest” design. These issues and their broader significance for the built environment disciplines define the emphasis of his appointment as Arcus Chair, and his work as Co-Chair of the “Diversity Platforms” committee of the CED. Recent initiatives include an innovative partnership with the Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco foregrounding interdisciplinary practitioners working at the intersection of queer theory, activism and cultural production across scales and disciplines—from visual arts, literature and film to architecture and urban design. Other joint initiatives include an Emerging Scholars program, designed to bring queer students from institutions of higher education across the Bay Area together in supportive, open-ended frameworks for intellectual exchange and public debate; an experimental Internship Program concerned with the public histories of marginalized communities in the Bay Area and beyond; and the Differences Beyond Recognition colloquium, which stages lectures, workshops and other public events exploring the creative potential of cultural difference in the environmental design disciplines.
In addition to his activities as Arcus Chair, Crysler has contributed extensively to the life of the CED through his service activities. He has been a member of the Department of Architecture's PH.D committee since 1999, and his served on a wide range of Ph.D dissertation and M.Sc thesis committees. Crysler also served as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies from 2008-12, during which time undergraduate services in the CED were restructured, plans for a fourth major in sustainability were launched, and the framework for renewing the college-wide Lower Division curriculum was developed. He is currently Director for the Department of Architecture's Berkeley Connect program, an undergradute mentorship and academic enrichment program.
- Selected Publications
C. Greig Crysler and Shiloh Krupar, Museum of Waste: Ecology, Capital, Sovereignty co-authored book manuscript (in preparation)
Maria Moreno Carranca (Principle Investigator) Julie-Anne Boudreau, Guenola Capron, and C. Greig Crysler, The Social Life of Aesthetics: Fear and (in)Security in Metropolitan North America. Trilateral research project funded by the Program for Inter-Institutional Collaboration, Mexico (PIERAN). Co-edited book in preparation for publication in Spanish.
“Green Alchemy: Conversion Ecologies at Treasure Island,” in Lynne Horiuchi and Tanu Sankalia (eds) Treasure Island: Visions and Transformations (forthcoming, University of Hawaii Press)
“Between the Cloud and the Chasm: Architectural Journals, Waste Regimes, and Economies of Attention,” in Daniel Maudlin and Marcel Vellinga (eds), Consuming Architecture: On the Occupation, Appropriation and Interpretation of Buildings (London and New York: Routledge 2014)
Principal Editor, with Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen; Section Editor, Sections 3, 4 and 7; Handbook of Architectural Theory (London and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2012)
“Time’s Arrows: Spaces of the Past,” The Handbook of Architectural Theory (London and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2012), pp. 325-339
“Introduction: Architectural Theory in an Expanded Field” co-authored with Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen, Handbook of Architectural Theory (London and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2012), pp. 1-22
“Reading the Handbook: Three Itineraries” co-authored with Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen, Handbook of Architectural Theory (London and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2012), pp. 23-38
“Comparative Alterities: Native Encounters and the National Museum,” in Madhuri Desai and Mina Rajagopalan (eds), Colonial Frames/Nationalist Histories (Farnham, UK: Ashgate Press, 2012), pp. 105-36
“Violence and Empathy: National Museums and the Spectacle of Society” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review (Spring 2006): 19-38
“From Flesh to Fiberglass: ‘Cows on Parade’ in Chicago,” in Katerina Ruedi Ray and Charles Waldheim (eds.), Chicago Architecture: Histories, Revisions, Alternatives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)
Writing Spaces: Discourses of Architecture, Urbanism and the Built Environment, 1960-2000 (New York and London: Routledge 2003)
Writing Spaces: Cultural Translation and Critical Reflexivity in the TDSR,” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, Vol. XI, No. II (Spring, 2000), pp. 51-59
“Angels in the Temple. The Aesthetic Construction of Citizenship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum” Co-written with Abidin Kusno for Art Journal (Spring, 1997), pp. 52-64
“Silent Itineraries: Making Places in Architectural History.” in A.D King, (ed.). Representing the City. Ethnicity, Capital and Culture in the 21st Century Metropolis, (London: Macmillan,1996), pp.203-26
“Critical Pedagogy and Architectural Education.” Journal of Architectural Education, May 1995, Vol 48. No. 4, pp. 208-17