Spatial Inequalities and Segregation in the Urban Landscape
. . . within the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, and cultural geography, there is an emerging body of theoretical, historical, and design research which recognizes the capacity of the built environment to serve as a repository of our collective and individual cultural history and memory. Yet contemporary methodologies of design often ignore the power of the landscape to evoke the history and memory of place, homogenizing the diverse cultural forces resident in the landscape, and thus reinforcing a peculiar sense of collective amnesia.
Craig Barton, Sites of Memory, xiv
The legacies of segregation, apartheid, and colonialism as they construct inequitable land use in cities are essential domains of study for landscape historians. Building on investigations of sites of memory, trauma, and racialized experience, this symposium invites scholars to engage with the urban landscape or environment through interrogating the means by which inequities, displacement, and spatial violence have affected the creation, development, and use of various spaces and sites in the urban public realm. We also seek scholarship into the everyday spatial practices through which marginalized communities resisted these oppressions and constructed alternative or counter narratives and spaces.
This project furthers the efforts of Dumbarton Oaks’ Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies over the past four years, including the symposia and publications Food and the City, River Cities/City Riversand Landscapes of Pre-Industrial Urbanism as well as a recent graduate workshop focused on the legacies of slavery and segregation in the Virginia landscape. The “urban landscape” is understood here as the whole socially and physically produced urban fabric and geography of land-use distribution, alongside the more familiar public realm of parks, plazas, streets, alleys, and infrastructure.
We seek papers that consider how social policies intersect with landscape and environmental realities to shape the intention and implementation of land-use policies (redlining is just one example) that segregate communities in specific parts of the urban landscape. We wish to identify shared legacies that remain evident today—as between those of apartheid in the United States and South Africa for instance—and to compare past, present, and potential future conditions. In considering the role of racial topographies and segregated landscapes, scholars might consider the relegation of low-income people to bottom lands, flood-prone areas, and steep slopes in both historical settlements and migrant communities. Access to natural resources including clean air and water will also be a part of the narrative, as will unequal access to economic, employment, and recreational opportunities. Further, scholars might identify parallels in the disproportionate impact that climate change and coastal inundation are sure to have on the economically disadvantaged around the world. We welcome paper proposals that address past inequities as well as those that offer responses or alternative narratives regarding sites of memory and trauma, territorial injustice and conflict, and protest and reconciliation. We are interested in projects addressing the scale of bounded sites and spaces as well as the broader networks and frameworks within which cities are conceived and lived in. These and other related investigations may be spatial, material, and human in addition to social, political, and historical.
As is customary for the Garden and Landscape Studies program, we welcome the participation of both scholars and designers. We invite landscape, planning, and urban historians as well as geographers, political ecologists, anthropologists, and sociologists, among others, to share their scholarship on the legacies of spatial inequality and segregation in urban landscapes and the public realm.