Leveraging marginality: The creation and valuation of novelty at the periphery

‘Peripheries in European Studies’ workshop, University of Notre Dame, USA, (hybrid), 19 June 2024

This is an account on peripherality, dissociation, and outsiders. It is, however, not a story about a marginal backwater region whose fate is sealed by geography and history; it also does not resonate with the standard narrative of regional suffering imposed by a lack of centrality. In this account, peripherality does not feature as destiny, but as the result of a deliberate choice to shield creativity and dissenting ideas from the mimetic pressures of the mainstream. Moreover, rather than as a static dualism, periphery and centre are regarded as relationally constituted and functionally interdependent both with regard to the generation of novelty as well as to the valuation of creativity. This account demonstrates how self-chosen peripherality was leveraged to instigate an architectural movement that elevated outsiders to world fame as Baukünstler, and that transformed a provincial Austrian region into an international centre of architectural creativity.