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The Anti-White Space

Samiha Meem
Samiha Meem
Artists' Books
15.5 × 23 × 0.6 cm
92 pp

“Comfort is about an encounter between more than one body, which is the promise of a ‘sinking’ feeling. To be comfortable is to be so at ease with one’s environment that it is hard to distinguish where one’s body ends and the world begins… White bodies are comfortable as they inhabit spaces that extend their shape… In other words, whiteness may function as a form of public comfort by allowing bodies to extend into spaces that have already taken their shape.

…spaces we occupy do not ‘extend’ the surfaces of our bodies… Having been singled out in line, at the borders, we become defensive; we assume a defensive posture, as we ‘wait’ for the line of racism, to take our rights of passage away. If we inherit the failure of things to be habitual, then we might also acquire a tendency to look behind us. To be not white is to be not extended by the spaces you inhabit… When you don’t sink, when you fidget and move around, then what is in the background becomes in front of you, as a world that is gathered in a specific way.”

- Sara Ahmed, A Phenomenology of Whiteness, Feminist Theory Vol. 8 (pg. 158), 2007

This manifesto looks at the direction of contemporary architecture through the critical lens of the anti-white space, a space that removes the ideology of whiteness that is ingrained in our practice hence becoming more inclusive. The presence of privilege in space puts pressure on people of color to defend their conflicting identities within it. Sharing themselves meant that they would be seen and being seen has never been easy. People of colour have been forced to build a pattern where they are continuously building their identities around those belonging to white people, protecting their feelings with disregard to their own, as an effort to recreate the comfort they see in white lives and to gain their approval. We are becoming more aware of this condition and sensitive to the existence of non-white needs but this also needs to extend into our practice of architecture. We see the ideologies put forth by privileged white architects, who haven’t had their identities challenged by space, and we accept it as the universal. White is the default. White is the normal. All outside it is questionable, more thoroughly vetted, and suppressed. It is unfair to force us to reconfigure our identities to cater to the white state of mind, to be able to relate to white issues, and not feel a reciprocation. If equality and unity is the intention, why is it so one-sided?

The Anti-White Space is filled with one-liners to help motivate you to dismantle privilege in these trying times.

Softcover, perfect-bound, b&w


  1. The Anti-White Space

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