Architects and anthropologists: Rapprochements and estrangements in the study of vernacular architecture

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Throughout the twentieth-century, architecture and anthropology shared an interest in rural settlements and its material culture, ending up constructing vernacular architecture as a subject of scientific research. Notwithstanding, an intertwined approach was only adopted in Portugal by the 1980s. This chapter examines the rapprochements and estrangements of architects and anthropologists in the study of vernacular architecture in order to discuss the extent of their interdisciplinary subtexts, propositions and accomplishments. Particular attention will be paid to the studies initiated in the 1980s as the turning point that set out the basis for new conceptual and methodological formulations. These echo its contemporary epistemological revision, the postmodern thirst for experimentation, and the sociocultural transformations of a country emerging from stagnation. But, more importantly, they put vernacular culture at the core of debates on heritage, categories of culture, and disciplinary jurisdictions, widening the scope of its political and intellectual uses and so too the frameworks for its understanding. Looking into three case studies’ published materials and their authors’ testimonies, this chapter collates the concepts and methods of anthropologists and architects in the study of vernacular and popular architecture, but assesses interdisciplinarity further beyond, taking into account the praxis, the subjects and the politics of anthropology and architecture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitecture and the Social Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationInter- and Multidisciplinary Approaches between Society and Space
EditorsMendes Maria Manuela, Teresa Sá, João Cabral
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319534770
ISBN (Print)9783319534763
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017


  • Vernacular architecture
  • Uses of culture
  • Interdisciplinarity


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