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Mark Jarzombek, Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture
Diplom Architekt. ETH: 1980
Ph.D. MIT: 1986

Jarzombek works on a wide range of topics – both historical and theoretical. He is one of the country’s leading advocates for global history and has published several books and articles on that topic, including the ground-breaking textbook entitled A Global History of Architecture (Wiley Press, 2006) with co-author Vikramaditya Prakash and with the noted illustrator Francis D.K. Ching. He is the sole author of Architecture of First Societies: A Global Perspective  (Wiley Press, 2013), which is a sensitive synthesis of first society architecture through time and includes custom-made drawings, maps and photographs. The book builds on the latest research in archeological and anthropological knowledge while at the same time challenging some of their received perspectives.


Jarzombek recently published a book that interrogates the digital/global imaginaries that shape our lives. Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Jarzombek’s ground-breaking work on global architecture history was highlighted by a 2.5 million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that Jarzombek received with co-PI, Vikramaditya Prakash (University of Washington, Seattle), to create a new scholarly entity called Global Architecture History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC). Promoting the development and exchange of teaching materials for architectural history education across the globe, the collaborative provides awards to members and their teams to develop new lecture material from global perspectives.


Through EdX, Jarzombek taught the first ever MOOC (mass open online course) on the history of architecture with thousands of participants, world-wide. It is based on the undergraduate course that he teaches 4.605:  A Global History of Architecture.

Jarzombek's and Prakash's other joint venture is the Architecture (Un)certainty Lab [A(U)L], which is dedicated to challenging architecture's epistemological and design capacities and bring the conversation back into a world of immersive ambiguities. A(U)L is the pedagogical wing of O(U)R, [Office for (Un)certainty Research] the project-oriented studio that is also run by Jarzombek and Prakash.


Urban destruction in the modern era is another focus of Jarzombek's work. His Urban Heterology: Dresden and the Dialectics of Post-Traumatic History takes on the issue of how erasure and rebuilding in Dresden force us to rethink the conventions of urban history. The issue is also at the core of the book about Krzysztof Wodiczko, City of Refuge: A 9/11 Memorial, which Jarzombek edited with Mechtild Widrich. He is currently working on a book called Architecture Modernity Enlightenment that reassesses contemporary architecture from the perspective of Enlightenment philosophers. His most recent book is Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age .

He was a CASVA fellow (1985), Post-doctoral Resident Fellow at the J. Paul Getty Center for the History of Humanities and Art, Santa Monica, California (1986), a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (1993), at the Canadian Center for Architecture (2001) and at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (2005). He serves on the board of several journals and academic institutions including the SSRC and the Buell Foundation, and was a member of the 2011 Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) "Excellence Initiative." 

Jarzombek has organized several major international conferences on topics such as Holocaust Memorials, Architecture and Cultural Studies, and East European Architecture. He was the founding faculty editor of Thresholds, an annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the Department of Architecture. The content of which features leading scholars and practitioners from the fields of architecture, art, and cultural studies.

Latest publications:


No one disputes that we live in a Digital Age. But unlike the transition into the Modern Age and the advent of various types of machines and technologies transition that we could see and experience as different and alienating entering into the Digital Age has been more insidious. This book opens a visual history that asks: How did we get where we are? A simple question, but not easy to answer since the world of algorithms is almost completely invisible to the common person, and yet is already everywhere, and as a result, we are no longer simply humans. The book, a companion to Jarzombeks Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age (University of Minnesota Press) looks at a wide range of advertisements, scientific papers, journals, political and legal events and ransomware histories as a visual panorama of material interspersed with comments, graphs and questions that allow for a more robust conversation about the digitally-modified, digitally-enhanced, digitally-polluted human. The book was part of a research project seminar that I ran at MIT. I want to thank in particular: Iris Karamouzi as well as Kyle Branchesi, Gideon Schwartzman and Nitzan Zilberman.


The Settler Colonial Present: Three Corrections

Digital Post Ontology

Distributed Learning>

The Quadrivium Industrial Complex>

The School of Architecture Scandals>

How to Think Global

," Interview on Architecture Talk

with Vikram Prakash. In this episode, Mark Jarzombek and Vikram Prakash engage in a far-ranging and open-ended discussion on the question of the global. Circulating around the question of the larger agenda of the global, discussion topics include modernity and its critiques, the nation-state and its limits, autobiography and its pitfalls, and the ways in which global thinking (dis)connects with deconstruction. 

"The Identitarian Episteme: 1980s and the Status of Architectural History," in After Effects: Theories and Methodologies in Architectural Research, Edited by Helene Frichot, Gunnar Sandin, and Bettina Schwalm, (London: Actar Publishers, 2018), pp. 99-109. The 1980s saw several important transformations in the field of architectural history, mostly, one can say from 'below', namely from the fields of ethnography ans vernacular studies. For many, the opening of interest in 'the local' was a refreshing expansion from the days of Eurocentrism. And indeed, much important work was done in these fields. Nonetheless, there was an unexpected consequence, for one also came to see in parallel the growth of a quasi-academic or a sub-academic world that championed a wide range of ethno-centric, political movements often in alliance with nation-based worldviews. The populist embrace of local histories, that one can loosely place in the zone of postmodern indentitarianism, often saw architecture as playing an important role as the site of revival or survival in an increasingly globalized world. The use of the term 'traditional architecture' escalated as did the number of village reconstructions and ethnographic museums. This 'identitarian episteme', as I call it, was thus itself a global phenomenon with its own disciplinary behaviors and agendas. My paper tries to address this phenomenon and identify avenues by which it can be studied and critiqued.

Husserl and the Problem of Worldliness,” Log 42, 2018, pp.  67 -  79. In sentence two of Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (1913), Edmund Husserl introduces the word World (Welt). What does Husserl mean with the word? I could have taken a broad view of his writings, but instead what I am doing here is reading Ideas sentence by sentence from the beginning, interpreting as I go as if Husserl were in a type of conversation with earlier philosophers. The sub-text of my discussion is a larger exploration of the status of that mysterious word - World - in colonial-era thinking. Needless to say, European 19th century philosophy never rose to the occasion of critique, so one has to chase after the repressed to make philosophy speak despite itself. I argue that Husserl delaminates Welt from Kant’s Weltbürger and Hegel’s Weltgeschichte to create a stand alone imaginary that is, ironically and tragically, opposed to the specter of worldliness. Ultimately the question for me is to understand the difference between World and Global.

"Borneo: The River Effect and the Spirit World Millionaires" in A History of Architecture and Trade, Edited by Patrick Haughey (London: Routledge, 2018) 80 – 114. This article looks at the upstream trade into Borneo, one of the main wealth-producing areas of SE Asia. My article challenges the more conventional privileging of ‘downstream’ trade in the narratives of SE Asian trade. The upstream trade was wealth-producing in its own right, though not technically ‘trade’ since commodity exchanges were oriented around the wealth of – and wealth-making capacity of – the long-house ancestors. Based on this argument we can better understand the processes by which the civilizations beginning in the 18th century slowly but inextricably altered and eventually completely decommissioned the exchange capacity of the local Borneo communities. My sources  are the numerous accounts of travelers, traders and explorers from the 19th- and 20th- centuries.

“Positioning the Global Imaginary: Arata Isozaki, 1970,” Critical Inquiry 44 (Spring 2018), 498 – 527. This article uses the early work of the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki as well as first publications of the Japanese journal Global Architecture as lenses by which to discuss the history of the word ‘global.’ In these contexts, the word meant something altogether different and more interesting than in the context of the U.S. I also argue that much of the theoretical flavor of that was implied by the term in the 1970s has long since been lost in the current trend of global-washing.

Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Once, humans were what they believed. Now, the modern person is determined by data exhaust—an invisible anthropocentric ether of ones and zeros that is a product of our digitally monitored age. I argue that the world has become redesigned to fuse the algorithmic with the ontological, and the discussion of ontology must be updated to rethink the question of Being.

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