Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

RCA talks

Pandemic Socialites – Biao Xiang and Andong Lu in conversation with Jingru (Cyan) Cheng

11 March 2021 | 1pm



In the midst of pandemic, the sixth instalment in the Co-Liberation Series welcomes anthropologist Biao Xiang and architect Andong Lu to share their observations and analyses of changing mobilities, urbanities and social codes in Chinese society in light of the Covid-19 crisis, while its full picture is still unfolding.

Biao Xiang, Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford and Director of Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, explores why the pandemic reinforces solidarity within groups but deepens divides across communities, and what artistic interventions could provide remedies.

Heading the Architectural Department at Nanjing University, Andong Lu’s work on urban narrative, ‘cinematic architecture’ and ‘augmented place’ extends this conversation on stasis, containment, movement and development through spatial practices of imagination and design research. 

The talk will be followed by a conversation with Jingru (Cyan) Cheng, together dissecting contagion and confinement through intersections between anthropology and architecture.

British Sign Language interpretation available for this lecture. This event is open to the public.

Co-Liberation: the RCA School of Architecture International Lecture Series 2020-21

‘As long as we are resisting we are free’ echoes the lingering battle-cry of the late Egyptian Marxist Samir Amin. For Amin, revolution was a process, a non-linear struggle forged in the long-now. This is revolution crafted in acts of resistance, in everyday opposition to an oppressive, profit-over-people logic which would seek to foreclose access, movement and imagination. This is revolution enacted through acts of freedom, through dangerous dreaming, alternative occupations and the construction of infinite, previously unthinkable possibilities in the face of enclosure. This is revolution as a home, a place of warmth, care, mutual aid, and solidarity across globally dispersed sites of interconnected struggle. This is a revolution that considers the days after the revolution as an integral part. It does not forget to think about those who will, after the revolution, as artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles reminds us, 'pick up the garbage on Monday morning'.   

This year’s series of lectures – under the theme Co-Liberation – draws these acts of resistance and freedom close and into dialogue, understanding that they operate both in time and space. We know that revolution is not a one time event and ask what unspent fuel remains from previous struggles to be reignited today? What can we learn from those who are on the front lines as we seek to imagine and build a more just, equitable world and how can we engage in constructing active forms of solidarity? We offer the International Lecture Series to all those who seek the warmth of a home of revolutionary thought today: from confronting the spatial instruments of racial capitalism, the violence of gender binaries, and the settler colonial underpinnings of the urban, to emancipatory Black re-constructions of the archive, the poetic, the performative and the sonic that reach back in time, grab hold of glowing embers of liberations gone-by and bring them to the fore, ready to be set alight with the strength of our collective breath, our desire to live and live free.