Race, History, and the Built Environment

This subject examines how the development of the built environment produces and reproduces conceptions of race—sociobiological theories of human difference. Using historical and cross-cultural cases, the course tracks the social and political lives of material objects, infrastructures, technologies, and architectures during projects of settler colonialism, nation-building, community development and planning, and in post-conflict and post-disaster settings. Social theories of race, place, space, and materiality; power, identity, and embodiment; and memory, death, and haunting are analyzed. Through analysis of examples such as the appropriated of land for infrastructure programs, the erasure and commemoration of heritage in public spaces, and the use of the built environment to support settler colonial projects, we explore how conceptions of belonging, citizenship, and also exclusion are represented and designed spatially. The subject is primarily intended for graduate students, although advanced undergraduates are welcome with instructor permission.