Vernacular modernities: exploring housebuilding practices in Latin America and the Philippines
Anna Cristina Pertierra
(Western Sydney University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper presents vignettes from three countries - Cuba, Mexico and the Philippines - to consider how and why building or renovating a house is a process through which people materialise urban modernities with remarkable consistencies in aesthetics, form and function.
Paper long abstract:
This paper presents a series of vignettes to reflect upon how and why building or renovating a house is a process through which people materialise urban modernities that - despite their diverse contexts - appear remarkably consistent in terms of aesthetics, form and function. Across three different examples drawn from longstanding ethnographic work in Cuba, Mexico and the Philippines, I consider a number of recurring features in vernacular housebuilding practices that appear to achieve an aesthetic of emerging lower-middle class modernity. In all three case studies, bunker style 'starter homes', flat roofing, and enclosed air-conditioned spaces are worked towards over periods of years through intermittent renovation, such that renovating the home often becomes the central material marker through which family prosperity, or lack thereof, can be measured. This paper is a starting point for work in progress which suggests house-building and renovation practices in large cities of Southeast Asia and Latin America as one possible location from which vernacular modernities - versions of modernity as they are lived and practiced on the ground - can be investigated and theorised.
Material moralities of homes and housing