Christopher Joshua Benton (SMACT ’23) has published his peer-reviewed research investigating foodways and Black radicality in the Nation of Islam for the MIT Thresholds Architectural Journal Volume 51: HEAT, published by MIT Press. The result of 2 years of academic and ethnographic research, the essay “Beyond Bowties & Bean Pies: A Material Analytic Approach to Eating & Meaning-making in the Nation of Islam” expands on Benton’s artistic exploration on the food of Black American Muslims, which included hosting dinner parties and cooking tutorials at institutions and museums in the Middle East. Inspired by Bentons’s relationship with his father, a former Nation of Islam member, the ongoing project has manifested in exhibition, publishing, happenings, and performance.

Heat is elusive: always on the move, always fugitive. As the transference of energy from one system to another, heat radiates and penetrates. Immanent and intense, heat binds and nourishes as much as it reshapes or destroys. While helping us navigate the material world as tool, medium, and affect, heat forces us to come to terms with the fragility of the systems in which we take part—both voluntarily and involuntarily. And though temperature is regularly mapped across graphs and thermometers, the feeling of heat is often so localized and so personal that it evades historic perception altogether. Even if we know things are hotter now than they were yesterday, where is heat within art and architecture?

Established in 1992, Thresholds is the annual peer-reviewed journal produced by the MIT Department of Architecture. Each independently themed issue features content from leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of architecture, art, and culture. The Thresholds advisory board, composed of internationally recognized figures in various fields of art culture, drives the development of each issue through intellectual support and the pursuit of high-quality submissions from fine arts, design, graphics, media arts and sciences, film, photography, and more.