Architects and Anthropologists: Rapprochements and Estrangements in the Study of Vernacular Architecture

  • Marta Lalanda PristaEmail author


Throughout the twentieth-century, architecture and anthropology shared an interest in rural settlements and its material culture, ending up constructing vernacular architecture as a subject of scientific research. Notwithstanding, an intertwined approach was only adopted in Portugal by the 1980s. This chapter examines the rapprochements and estrangements of architects and anthropologists in the study of vernacular architecture in order to discuss the extent of their interdisciplinary subtexts, propositions and accomplishments. Particular attention will be paid to the studies initiated in the 1980s as the turning point that set out the basis for new conceptual and methodological formulations. These echo its contemporary epistemological revision, the postmodern thirst for experimentation, and the sociocultural transformations of a country emerging from stagnation. But, more importantly, they put vernacular culture at the core of debates on heritage, categories of culture, and disciplinary jurisdictions, widening the scope of its political and intellectual uses and so too the frameworks for its understanding. Looking into three case studies’ published materials and their authors’ testimonies, this chapter collates the concepts and methods of anthropologists and architects in the study of vernacular and popular architecture, but assesses interdisciplinarity further beyond, taking into account the praxis, the subjects and the politics of anthropology and architecture.


Vernacular architecture Uses of culture Interdisciplinarity 



This research is funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) in the form of a post-doctoral research fellowship (SFRH/BPD/75978/2011), and in the scope of CRIA’s strategic plan UID/ANT/04038/2013.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRIA (Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia), Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e HumanasUniversidade Nova de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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