Our week on “the closet” traces a long history of the architecture of privacy and asks how the “closet” came to signify a space of familial secrets and forbidden sexualities. We are looking at the “closet” both as an architectural site that raises boundaries and marks rites of passage, as well as a metaphor that structures sexualities around visibility and obscurity. We open the concept of the closet to a transcultural understanding, comparing and contrasting the various ways in which the structuring of privacy delineated also gender and sexuality. The “closet” has been a concept closely associated with the building of queer community, but also ideas of privacy. As a spatial structure, the closet offers a space of utmost privacy, away from the public eye, where the structuring of identity takes place against the normative environment that lies beyond the closet. Often times, coming out of the closet implies claiming that identity in front of a public, be it one’s own community or a general public. The concept of the “closet” is rarely explored within a comparative, transcultural framework. Today we will examine what kind of spatial manifestations has the metaphor of the closet taken across different non-Western cultures, and how have these architectures structured gender identity.
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