The Organization of Life: Interwar Entanglements between Architecture, Art, and the Life Sciences


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art




“The Organization of Life” examines episodes in between, and following, the two World Wars, in which modern architects, artists, designers, and writers collaborated with biologists in an effort to reconstruct Britain as a scientifically-ordered world comprised of scientifically-designed subjects. Five case studies revisit schemes that championed the belief that human behavior can be reshaped by a modernized environment. Examined through legacies of British colonialism, representations of “the human”, and concepts of race, the episodes reveal a belief in biology and culture as “civilizing” tools to reinvent an idealized subjectivity. Through substantial archival research, this book demonstrates how cultural production performed as technologies of life, while marking an important shift in concepts of nature and the human condition: previously abstract and immovable, they became constructs that could be radically redesigned.