Irene Brisson, assistant professor of architecture, is a 2023 recipient of the Getty/the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art for their book Kreyòl Architectures: Design in Dialogue in Haitian House Building.
“Haitian architectures have been produced by the interlacing of colonial, industrial, and diasporic spatial practices, but while historic creole styles are lauded as valuable patrimony, contemporary creolized practices—and practitioners—are frequently demeaned,” Brisson wrote.
“This book argues for a holistic understanding of design as a social and discursive project that crosses geographic, classed, racialized, and linguistically marked divisions. Based on extended ethnographic study of residential construction in western Haiti, the book uses the concept of Kreyòl architecture to describe the open-ended process of creolization in design which is both rooted in Haiti and a product of centuries of transnational circulation of people, technologies, images, and materials.”
Brisson (they/their) is a scholar and designer of built environments invested in the cultivation of just and sustaining places for people. Their research and pedagogy centers historically marginalized narratives of building culture and designers in Haiti and the Afro-Caribbean diasporas of the Americas in pursuit of a radically expanded field of global architecture.
Their current book project, Kreyòl Architecture: Design in dialogue in Haitian house building, theorizes Kreyòl architecture as a design process which has continuously emerged from the interlacing of liberatory, (neo)colonial, vernacular, industrial, and diasporic spatial practices and which exceeds any fixed historical creole style. Based on extended ethnographic research with architects, bòsmason, NGOs, and residents involved in housebuilding in Leyogàn, this work consider how intimate desires, global influences, and collective politics of domestic environments reproduce and challenge the status quo of building culture. A new research project focuses on the transnational linkages and parallels between building cultures, racial capitalism, and environmental risk in the greater Caribbean and Gulf Coast regions.
Brisson’s research has been supported by the US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays program, the Institute for the Humanities and the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan. Their dissertation received the Carter Manny Dissertation Writing Award from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
“I’m immensely grateful for the space this fellowship will allow me to think and write this book,” Brisson said.
Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships support innovative scholarship by recent PhDs that will make substantial and original contributions to the understanding of art and its history. A distinguished committee of diverse senior scholars with wide-ranging expertise selected this year’s 10 fellows for their capacity to expand the field of art history and explore previously understudied regions of the world.
View the 2023 recipients of the Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art. This program is made possible by a major grant from Getty.