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Micro Narrative
Images Doing Work:
Construction Photography at the Tuskegee Institute and Black Mountain College
Anna Goodman, Maura Lucking
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Class and race have historically impacted and continue to shape our perception of what is and who should engage in architectural “work.” Much current writing on architectural labor—be it the critical assessments of The Architecture Lobby, advocacy for design-build programs, or discourses on digital crafts—finds it difficult to maintain distinctions between knowledge work and more traditional configurations of labor. These two forms of work are, in fact, produced within particular historical contexts and defined by their relation to each other and to references outside the architectural field. While new technologies and configurations of capitalism have remade architectural labor on a broad scale, competing definitions of architectural practice and variation among architectural workers predate these contemporary concerns. In the paired essays that follow, we examine two case studies that made significant use of students’ manual labor on campus construction projects: the Tuskegee Institute and Black Mountain College. In these analyses, we demonstrate that student labor—whether organized toward building vocational skills or individual character—is always deeply linked to more fundamental understandings of American citizenship.

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