This conference seeks to explore how concepts of freedom and liberal political and economic theories have intersected with architecture and the built environment from the 19th century to the present day.  The popular reaction against ‘neoliberalism’ understood as an economic structure has reignited academic debate as to whether architecture, bound up as it is in real estate speculation and the financing of building, has a capacity for critique. The present socio-political circumstances of architecture, however, ought to be understood in the longer and more varied history of liberalism and architecture’s imbrication with political and economic thought on freedom and the subjects of freedom.


Organising Institution

The Architecture Criticism Theory and History (ATCH) Centre at the University of Queensland.

Conference Convenors

Dr Janina Gosseye, Professor Helena Mattsson, Professor John Macarthur, and Dr Deborah van der Plaat

Submission Guidelines

We seek contributions that might address, but need not be limited to:

  • 19th century constructions of citizenship in civic institutions
  • colonialism, anti-colonialism and cosmopolitanism in the 19th and 20th century
  • social liberalism of the early 20th century and critiques of utopianism
  • the positive freedoms sought by substantive liberals in the welfare state
  • the return of classical economic liberalism and its relation with postmodernism
  • the role of cultural policy, cultural industries and governmentality in the liberal state
  • the relation of theories of the aesthetic autonomy of art to personal freedom
  • the biopolitics of urban and architectural conditions and projects

We seek papers of 20 minutes length, proposals for panel discussions, and scholars interested in active involvement as respondents and chairs. We are interested in contributions from both inside and outside the discipline of architecture.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted by 5 February 2018 to, with the subject line: ‘liberalism_abstract_surname’. Authors will be notified of abstract acceptance by 5 March 2018.

For more information, visit the ATCH website.

Key dates

Submission deadline: 5 February 2018
Notification of acceptance: 5 March 2018
Conference: 18-19 May 2018