at the lab
Workshop: a nation is a thing that you hold
feminist architecture collaborative

Sunday and Monday 5-6 January 2020

A magnetic ID card, a temporary passport, a birth certificate, a confiscated UNHCR card. What are the material artefacts of citizenship or its absence? How are they held? Citizenship continues to be understood in relation to the body’s legal belonging to a territory, eliding the complex, gendered, classed, and racialized experience often held in a suspension of citizenship.

In 25 countries, 14 of which are members of the Arab League, the subjectification of the national citizen is a bloody matter, dependent on the proper circulation of paternal blood at the expense of maternal rights. In those countries, jus sanguinis (“right of blood” as opposed to “right of the soil,” jus soli) still excludes women from the full reproduction of citizenship by endowing only patrilineal bloodlines with the power to confer it. As the paper document attests to the identity of the body and its proper place—narrowed to the objective qualifiers of paternity and nationality—risk abounds when women fail to present the proper evidence of their own belonging. In Jordan, women who have a legal claim to citizenship are still denied legal guardianship of their children (except in specific cases); they face challenges when travelling outside the country with their children without a written consent from the father or grandfather, and risk automatically losing custody of their child if they remarry after a divorce. Amid these spatial and relational displacements, women bear the immediate and existential consequences of being written out of the law.

We invite you, the interlocutor, to partake in a workshop; a space production, attestation, and conversation. The workshop will be broken into two sessions as follows:

Day 01 (Sunday, 5 January 6-9 pm): Participants are invited to bring artefacts that define their belonging to the nation-state (their place of birth, their place of residence, the place they think of as home). These might be legal documents or reproductions thereof, family heirlooms, photographs, an object of personal interest. We will have a conversation around these things and their meaning. The second part of the workshop will entail rewriting existing legal texts, striking lines and introducing others that reimagine a kind of ideal citizenship law. Through these exercises, the workshop will culminate in producing novel forms of self-identification: new documentary artefacts of belonging. A video will be produced of portions of these exercises for the exhibition at the lab.

Day 02 (Monday, 6 January  6-8 pm): Participants are invited to take part in an informal conversation with f-architecture. This will be an occasion to speak through experiences with the participants and partake in a collective reimagining of belonging.

This workshop is part of the third phase of our 2019 program at The Lab.

feminist architecture collaborative (alt: f-architecture) is a three-woman* architectural research enterprise aimed at disentangling the contemporary spatial politics and technological appearances of bodies, intimately and globally. Their projects traverse theoretical and activist registers to locate new forms of architectural work through critical relationships with collaborators across the globe. Past and current projects are located in New York City, on the US-Mexico border, in the Amazon of Ecuador, in Jordan and in Lebanon.