Arindam Dutta is Associate Professor of Architectural History. Dutta teaches surveys and advanced research courses at the graduate level, and directs the SMArchS Program at MIT’s Department of Architecture.
His teaching interests are in the area of modern architectural theory and history, imperialism and globalization, gender and body politics, Marxist thought, and post-structuralism. Dutta obtained his Ph.D. in the History of Architecture from Princeton University in 2001. He has degrees in architectural design from the Harvard Design School and the School of Architecture in Ahmedabad, India. Graduating with gold medals from his undergraduate institution in India, Dutta has been the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, the Getty Fellowship, in addition to numerous research grants and awards. Dutta's articles have appeared in the Journal of Society of Architectural Historians, Grey Room, the Journal of Arts and Ideas, and Perspecta.
Dutta is the author of The Bureaucracy of Beauty: Design in the Age of its Global Reproducibility, (New York: Routledge, 2007), a wide-ranging work of cultural theory that connects literary studies, postcoloniality, the history of architecture and design, and the history and present of empire. The Bureaucracy of Beauty begins with nineteenth-century Britain's Department of Science and Arts, a venture organized by the Board of Trade, and how the DSA exerted a powerful influence on the growth of museums, design schools, and architecture throughout the British Empire. In the words of one reviewer, the book's intriguing claim is that "empire operates not only through domination, not only through hegemony, but also through beauty." But this is only the book's literal subject: in a remarkable set of chapters, Dutta explores the development of international laws of intellectual property, ideas of design pedagogy, the technological distinction between craft and industry, the relation of colonial tutelage to economic policy, the politics and technology of exhibition, and competing philosophies of aesthetics. (See Bibliography*).
Dutta is currently at work on a number of projects. Governing by Design is a collected series of essays on the relationships between architecture, politics and economy, brought out in collaboration from the Aggregate group, of which Dutta is a member (forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press). Dutta is also the editor of A Second Modernism: Architecture, MIT and the ‘Techno-Social” Moment, on the postwar conjuncture of architectural thought and linguistic/systems theories (forthcoming).
Dutta's current work focuses on two different areas. He is at work on a book entitled Ancestralities: Nature, Architecture and the Debt. The research explores the relationship between sovereignty and architecture, the first examined through the modern apparatus of debt, the latter through the history of institutions. It tracks the beginning of a new global worldview - called ‘economic’ - in the eighteenth century and its impact on subjecthood – including the emergence of ‘the subject’ – and studies how this new organizational sensibility recalibrated the texture of dwelling and infrastructure. The spread of capital seen here as drawing less from military or geographic expansion – these are effects rather than causes – as from the subsumption of different worlds under an uneven, abstract logic of finance. The intertwined story of economics, authority and architecture is followed through from the European Enlightenment onward in a series of chapters that foreground key aesthetic and building types. One key aspect of the study is the emergence of ‘design’ as an ideational keyword relating to commodities, which in Dutta’s view is strongly related to the ‘marginalist’ theories that emerged in the same period. The book begins by studying Thomas Jefferson’s reflections on debt, relating it to John Soane’s conception of materiality in his supervision of the Bank of England – Jefferson’s declared bane – in the same period. Further chapters relate this tangling of debt and architecture to other territories and forward to more recent times: Bengal in the 18th and the 21st centuries, French Algeria in mid-20th century, Britain and Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries. The book explores the irrational moments of coercion within what are often passed off as the rational basis of the economy, and argues that this irrationality refers back to archaic, unmodern forms of power within the heart of modernity itself.
The second project is titled, Sahmat 1989-2004: Liberal Art Practice against the Liberalized Public Sphere, and involves an extensive and detailed examination of the political challenges faced by artists in India with the corresponding rise of Hindu religious fundamentalism and neoliberalism in India. The unraveling of state controls over fiscal policy eroded the institutional frameworks – and the sensibilities – through which art had been practiced in the post-independence years, while the opening up of media networks brought sharp challenges to the interrelated norms of censorship and expressive freedom. Using the significant archives of the artists' platform Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (Sahmat), Dutta looks at the protocols of censorship; the construction of a new "public" by media, government, civil society and political movements; the discursive place of "art" in society as institutional patronage declined and global market mechanisms took hold; as well as the appropriations of civic buildings, archaeological sites and public space by political and/or popular movements.
Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture.School of Architecture, Princeton University,
Master of Arts in Architecture. School of Architecture, Princeton University
Masters in Architecture. Graduate School of Design, Harvard University
Diploma in Architecture. School of Architecture, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad, India.
Associate Professor, Clarence H. Blackall Career Development Chair in Architectural History, History Theory Criticism Section, Department of Architecture, MIT
Assistant Professor, History Theory Criticism Section, Department of Architecture, MIT.
Architectural Assistant (Drawing, Site Supervision, Client Meetings). Prof. Anant Raje, Architect. Ahmedabad, India
Site Supervisor (Construction Site Work). Messrs. Gannon & Dunkerly Inc., Ahmedabad, India.
Clarence H. Blackall Chair in Architectural History. Department of Architecture, MIT.
Rotch Travelling Studio Award, (w/ Mark Goulthorpe). The Boston Society of Architects/American Institute of Architects
J. Paul Getty Postdoctoral Fellowship in the History of Art and the Humanities. The Getty Grant Program, Los Angeles
Research Grant. The Cabot Fund, MIT
Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Society. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Princeton University
Honorable Mention. 1998 Carter Manny Award. The Graham Foundation, Chicago. Travelling Fellowships. The Council for Regional Studies, The Centre of International Studies and the Compton Fund. Princeton University.
Cramer Travelling Prizes. School of Architecture, Princeton University