ANTi-History in design research:
New applications and interpretations
In the postcolonial era, contemporary poststructuralist paradigm shift has provided alternative views of the past as well, especially in terms of new interpretations of regional histories and understanding of cultural contexts. One fairly novel strategy in this respect is ANTi-History, which is an approach to the study of the past drawing on the actor-network theory (ANT). The objective is to offer diverse readings of the largely Euro-America centralized history writing by revealing accounts that have earlier been overlooked. Contrary to the negative connotation of ‘anti’, ANTi-History does not, however, negate the significance of history, but aims to pluralize historical narratives. The view is based on Foucauldian poststructuralism and comprehension of the present as it relates to the past. In other words, ANTi-History focuses on the present, while seeking alternate connotations and (de)constructions of past events, particularly in relation to sociopolitical actants and actions. This links ANTi-History to the concept of Applied History, according to which present- day problems can be solved by knowledge of the past. As to design research, substitute readings of history are particularly relevant in the postcolonial contexts, in which ‘place making’ as part of re- creating regional identities is the main concern and further related to Critical Regionalism. Hence, this paper examines the interrelationship between ANTi-History, Critical Regionalism, and decolonialization within the discourse on the design of built environment. To clarify ANTi-History as a theoretical framework in architectural research, a single-case study on the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia is given as an example, in order to offer new interpretations of its architecture and design actions in one postcolonial context. Consequently, the paper argues that applications of this paradigm to precedent studies both in the education of architecture and in the practice-based research can be pertinent in the future praxis.