13 Pages

The erotics of fieldwork in Learning from Las Vegas

ByMichael J. Ostwald, Michael Chapman

This chapter is focused on uncovering the relationship between scientific fieldwork and

repressed sexuality in Learning from Las Vegas. Fieldwork is especially significant in

Learning from Las Vegas because that work set out to use scientific methods and tech-

niques to provoke a revolution in architecture. Fieldwork is also central to two similarly

important types of revolution that shaped Learning from Las Vegas. The first is Thomas

Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions, proposed in the 1960s for understanding how

change is promoted in a discipline. The second is the sexual revolution, which became

widespread in the 1960s and which drew some of its inspiration from the fieldwork of

anthropologist Margaret Mead. The chapter revisits the fieldwork undertaken for Learn-

ing from Las Vegas in 1968 and questions both its objectivity and its ambivalent and

inconsistent attitude towards gender and sexuality. As a key component of this investi-

gation, the chapter adopts the anthropological notion of the ‘erotics of fieldwork’ to illu-

minate these previously ignored dimensions in Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour’s