Architecture as Epiphylogenetic Memory

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


The decoding of the human genome nearly two decade ago fuelled expectations that an understanding of all human hereditary influences was within sight. But the connections turned out to be far more complicated than imagined. What has since emerged is a new frontier in the study of genetic signalling known as epigenetics, which holds that the behaviour of genes can be modified by environmental influences and that those changes can be passed down the generations. Geneticists are quietly acknowledging that we may have too easily dismissed an early naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who anticipated modern epigenetics and whom Darwinists have long disparaged. This revelation is paramount for the ‘niche constructionists’ – architects and urbanists. Rather than defining the situation in terms of its components, the components, including organisms, can be defined only in terms of the situation in which they are encountered. The adaptations of organisms have been treated as consequences of natural selection pressures which moulded organisms to fit pre-established environmental templates. Yet the templates themselves are dynamic because environmental manipulation alters the worlds to which organisms have to adapt. However, the changes that organisms bring about in their own worlds are seldom thought to have evolutionary significance. This needs to change because the evolution of organisms now depends on both natural selection and niche construction. Niche construction can thus be understood as a form of exosomatic sedimented transgenerational memory or what Bernard Stiegler called epiphylogenetics. Ask not what’s inside the genes you inherited, but what your genes are inside of.
Period18 Jun 2022
Event titleThe Place of Memory and Memory of Place
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational