Working Between and Across: Some Psychic Dimensions of Architecture’s Inter and Transdisciplinarity

Recent times have seen the appropriation of the terms inter- and transdisciplinarity, grounded as they are in critique and politic debate, to deliver instrumental government policy. This article argues that in order to understand how both inter- and transdisciplinary approaches pose critiques of disciplinarity in architecture, one has to acknowledge the importance of their relational aspects. I do this here by referring to examples where humanities theorists have used terms drawn from psychoanalysis to inform debates on interdisciplinarity, for example “anxiety” in the work of Julia Kristeva and “ambivalence” in the writings of Homi Bhabha. In order to examine the potential of transversal activities for providing critiques of institutionalized relations put forward by Félix Guattari, I also briefly discuss several other relevant psychic concepts, for example, first the notion of “transitional space” put forward by D.W. Winnicott, and secondly the more elliptical phrase, “the enigmatic message,” proposed by Jean Laplanche. In the article I suggest that it is only by paying attention to the psychic dimensions of inter- and transdisciplinarity that we can understand how such work may operate in sites of resistance and contestation.

Jane Rendell, ‘Working Between and Across: Some Psychic Dimensions of Architecture’s Inter and Transdisciplinarity’, ‘Discipline and Dissidence’, edited by Diana Periton and Igea Troiani, Architecture and Culture, inaugural issue of new journal in association with AHRA, (2013).

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