Emilio Distretti is a researcher, writer and educator interested in the decolonial reuse and deactivation of colonial architecture.
Emilio is a Reasearch Tutor at the RCA – School of Architecture and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Basel (Switzerland).
He engages with critical research methodologies and pedagogy, centred around the entanglements between repair, reparations and decolonisation in the Mediterranean basin and in the Horn of Africa. In his writings and collaborations, Emilio deploys and narrates the public dimension of architecture as a space and a tool for repair from colonialism and its racialised, social and economic aftermaths, a space for critical knowledge production around preservation. His work features in journals, books and magazines; among those Cabinet,e-flux, the Journal of Architecture, Future Anterior and Antipode: a Journal of Radical Geography.
Emilio collaborates with the art collective DAAR - Decolonizing Architecture Art Research and with RIWAQ - Centre for Architectural Conservation in Palestine. In 2020 he co-founded with Alessandro Petti the Difficult Heritage Summer School in Sicily. By discussing and imagining practices and strategies of (non)preservation, re-appropriation, profanation and decolonisation of Italian fascist colonial architecture, the school explores and theorises new trajectories in heritage-making as a decolonial relational praxis.
Emilio studied philosophy at the University of Bologna (Italy) and holds a PhD in Aesthetics and the Politics of Representation from the School of Art and Design at Portsmouth University (UK).
He lived in Palestine, where he was the Director of the Urban Studies and Spatial Practices program at Al Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences in Abu Dis, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Kenyon Institute (Council for British Research in the Levant) in East Jerusalem.