Mellon Forum: Palm Politics

Oct 4, 2022, 12:00 pm1:30 pm
Betts Auditorium and Zoom link


Event Description

Fall 2022 Mellon Forum on the Urban Environment / RACE EMPIRE ENVIRONMENT 

Palm Politics, or, a Genealogy of Architectural Arecaceae


Will Davis, Princeton-Mellon Fellow, and Sigrid Adriaenssens, Civil and Environmental Engineering

October 4 at 12pm EST

Attend this discussion in Betts Auditorium, abiding by University event guidelines. Box lunches are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Or register to attend via Zoom:


Nipa palm is one of the most commonly found species in tropical habitats that meet the ocean, and it has a wide spectrum of uses in estuarine places. It is woven into panels for walls, folded into shingles for roofs, it is threaded, thatched, fermented, bunched and tied into baskets, hats, mats and brooms. Its fruit is eaten as a dessert ingredient in Malaysia and Singapore, while it is fermented to become a kind of liquor in the Philippines, known as tuba. Palm is a machine for living of and living in. However, this perennial, ubiquitous, living material, has had a brittle relationship to the realm of architectural study, where it is often sidelined as so-called “vernacular” architecture. The epistemic trajectory of houses built from nipa or coconut palm and bamboo is at odds with a construction process that is often gendered and tied to traditional, lived knowledge. This talk explores how palms (arecaceae) have come to be interpreted in their various architectural guises.

The Mellon Forum is sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, Humanities Council, Center for Collaborative History, HMEI, PIIRS, PLAS, Department of Art + Archaeology, Department of English, and the School of Architecture.