Pretexts, Subtexts, Contexts
in Struggles for Environmental Justice

Ghazal Jafari 
Hernán Bianchi-Benguria
Pierre Bélanger

“Almost alone among the key players of this century’s history, the landscape remains silent. But in truth it may be the most expert witness of all. In its broadest sense, ‘landscape’ is a stage on which struggles occur — where humans extract resources from the earth, suburbs drain people and wealth from cities, and territory is contested between warring groups. Landscape is also a kind of slate upon which the evidence of culture, habitation and labor is written and may be read.”

—Rick Prelinger, Our Secret Century, 1993–1995

The 1990s mark an era of territorial and technological transformation whose magnitudes have only recently come into focus for a range of different disciplines. The fall of South Africa’s Apartheid and the rise of the Internet’s Information Superhighway are but a few significant regime changes that signal structural shifts along lines of failing states, ongoing injustices, and emerging media. Closer to the ground, the explosive demonstrations in Los Angeles ignited by the brutal police beating of Rodney King, the bombings in the Siege of Sarajevo, the gendered violence against women and girls either during the Kosovo War or in the #MMIWG Movement, the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on 9/11 as a result of the militarization of the Middle East and ensuing Global War on Terror, as well as the massive transnational mobilization in the blockade against the Dakota Access Pipeline and other ongoing acts of cultural genocide, are but a few of the milestone moments that define a period of extreme and embodied spatial change on the surface and in the air of these changing states.

Against this vivid foreground of political events is a background of slow institutional transitions: the spatialization of social sciences through the revival of geography, the racialization of geopolitical studies, the softening of hard sciences through open access, the pluralization of identities across the justice system, and the gradual materialization of economic systems recently revealed in the housing mortgage meltdown and credit crisis of 2008. All this as a backdrop of a social and political uprising manifest in major movements such as Black Lives Matter and Idle No More, all which confront longstanding racial, economic, and environmental injustices upheld by the systems of settler-colonialism and the structures of white supremacy.

If these changes in thinking about race, class, and gender are rooted in the representation of the spaces of inequality and the environments of injustice, then an understanding of intersectionality and difference is central and important as defined and argued in 1993 by civil rights lawyer Kimberlé Crenshaw:

“The embrace of identity politics, however, has been in tension with dominant conceptions of social justice. Race, gender, and other identity categories are most often treated in mainstream liberal discourse as vestiges of bias or domination — that is, as intrinsically negative frameworks in which social power works to exclude or marginalize those who are different. According to this understanding, our liberatory objective should be to empty such categories of any social significance. Yet implicit in certain strands of feminist and racial liberation movements for example, is the view that the social power in delineating difference need not be the power of domination; it can instead be the source of social empowerment and reconstruction. […] Through an awareness of intersectionality, [recognizing that identity politics takes place at the site where categories intersect, thus seems more fruitful than challenging the possibility of talking about categories at all], we can better acknowledge and ground the differences among us and negotiate the means by which these differences will find expression in constructing group politics.” [1]

In hindsight, the changes in thinking of the past twenty-five years through these political grounds are potentially revolutionary. They represent intersectional outcomes that have contributed to a heightened sense and cross-cultural awareness of the geopolitical unevenness and polarizing economies of globalization across borders and boundaries, old and new. With the rise of social activism and proliferation of digital forms of communication, alternative forms of organization (especially women-based, increasingly youth-initiated) made possible in part by real-time information have enhanced patterns of exchange — in sometimes explosive ways — heightening the visibility and spatializing the awareness of ongoing inequalities and injustices. These emerging images — and arguably these new maps — have put into question the walled authority of hierarchical modes of control (police, prisons, carceral systems), communication (media, science, surveillance systems), and production (labor conditions, rights, borders); precisely coinciding with a moment where massive political demonstrations are enabled and even ignited through social media platforms, spreading and swelling across city streets, state highways, or public squares, to culminate in front of police departments, parliaments, embassies, or monuments. If the analog map muted the territory in the past century, then the digital screen (lenses, mirrors, windows) now dominates our filtered perception of those spatial systems of representation — whether we are talking about the incarceration of political refugees, violence against displaced migrants, or the dispossession of climate refugees.

Notwithstanding their currency, the recognition of the extensive and dynamic territoriality of these political changes has been largely overlooked — if not dismissed — by institutional establishments. Where bureaucratic power lies, administrative control has been slow to adapt; especially when hierarchical forms of policy, planning, and jurisprudence reign in closed and contained systems of decision making. In turn, the rise of neo-liberalization that has capitalized on this bureaucratic inertia has expanded into massive financial empires and technocratic processes that have taken shape during this time. Tendencies towards the offshoring of production and banking have subsequently produced new financial hinterlands that remain mostly unseen and unmapped. As a result, there is an increasing divide and difference between the center and the periphery. This financial-capital complex clearly points in many cases towards deeper colonial forces rooted in more than three to five centuries of resource exploitation, extraction, and exportation. And while certain forms of resistance to these global and planetary forces have preceded and preempted the turn of the millennium, the strong neo-liberal and neo-Taylorist forces acting in the paper worlds of extraction and exploitation that have marked the past two to three decades remain largely at work today at far greater extents than ever before. [2]

For the Millennial Generation and Generation X born during this period, the guise of self-actualization and liberation from exploitative, industrial labor has actually imprisoned them in the colonial metropolis and its forms of consumption and subjugation. Millennials and Gen-Xers remain far removed from means of production, divided more than ever across classes of wealth. Increasingly complex layers of fiscal and financial systems not only support but maintain their strict separation. This socio-economic apartheid and cultural disenfranchisement is also exacerbated and alienated by the distancing from fields of cultivation and territories of extraction; lands and landscapes that support and sustain the contemporary livelihoods of billions of people whom, more and more, are dispossessed from their lands and forcibly displaced to the edge of cities. This ‘geographic degeneration’ is further compounded by the disillusionment of the large-scale grandeur of utopian welfare states that once promised equity, equality, and justice through democracy. This fracture between the state and the citizen (now increasingly users, clients, consumers, drivers) between what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’ is now breeding a whole new set of politicized identities and communities working from below. In reaction to the wars between bureaucratic opacity and social transparency, the displaced and the dispossessed now congregate and concentrate around new sites of ideological common ground. Here, counter-cartographies, queer identities, decolonial pedagogies, revived languages, and subversive softwares attempt to decode, deconstruct, and dismantle the strongholds of bureaucratic hardware, heteropatriarchy, brick-and-mortar policy, and state-controlled systems of settler-colonialism. [3]

Emerging from an overlooked body of work lying in the dust of the turn of the millennium, the powerful voices of a shadow group of spatial thinkers are brought together in a radical collection of views — drowned out by the noise of Y2K — whose work cuts across the hard core of the sciences, industrial division of labor and gender, as well as the cadre of professional disciplines. They help forge an understanding of the alternative spaces required for change; what comparative linguist Mary Louise Pratt defined as “contact zones” in her critical argument for the reconstruction of institutional knowledge in 1991, in terms of,

“social spaces where [disparate] cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power [domination and subordination], such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today. Eventually I will use the term to reconsider the models of community that many of us rely on in teaching and theorizing and that are under challenge today.” [4]

In response to this period of turbulent transformation and wide-sweeping social stratification, the voices from this group of fin-de-siècle thinkers, writers, and activists delineates the contours of a resurgence in geopolitical thought and cultures of resistance from the margins of a dominant center held by the whiteness of institutions. As point of contact and encounter, the racialization of that dominant center and its peripheries — with the systems of knowledge that uphold it — is especially significant and essential. As anti-colonial geographer Katherine McKittrick writes in her incisive 2011 essay “On Plantations, Prisons, and a Black Sense of Place,”

“Instead of encounter, in fact, our present system of knowledge, inherited from enlightened colonialism and Eurocentric modernity, repetitively constitutes blackness as a discreet (and hostile) category that routinely ‘troubles’ an already settled whiteness. This paradigmatic perspective on race and blackness, in its denial of an entangled racial history produced through geographies of encounter, normalizes practices of colonization as it naturalizes overdevelopment, accumulation, and land ownership as identifiable-seeable locales of emancipation.” [5]

These writings and modes of thinking have been responding to socioeconomic struggles over the past two decades with actionable research while remaining critically aware of the violence, oppression, and hegemony of global capital flow. Bringing together a range of voices — from botanists and arborists, to historians and anthropologists — this project of writings compilation reformulates a politicized conception of urbanization that for the most part emerged prior to the turn of the 21st century as resistance and subversion to the educational institution and political establishment.

By grounding social, scientific, and economic knowledge, these voices provide a counter-position for re-assessing the critical relevance and pressing significance of environmental challenges through different senses, alternatives scales, and new lenses. Considered together, they represent a groundswell in political, and ecological thinking. As an unintended collective, they underlie the deep dimensions and dispositions of land as the underlying platform upon which the liberalization of global markets, the colonization of nation states, the racialization of labor systems, the weaponization of technological infrastructures, and the imperialism of transnational corporations are playing out.

To be clear, this is a movement of reparation, reconstruction, and repatriation. As writer, historian, and poet Deborah A. Miranda from the Ohlone/Costanoan-Esselen Nation of California writes in her 2007 essay Teaching on Stolen Ground,

“this work of repatriation in the academy, is not about victimization or blame games. It’s about the acknowledgement and resolution of real and tangible crimes so that a future truly is worth living.”

Furthermore, she explicitly identifies the complicity of the urban design disciplines (from architecture and engineering to planning and policy) in the systems of settler-colonialism across the United States:

“You steal the land, build a country on a stolen foundation, construct a cage around it. All that you have — your possessions, your ethics, your history — depends on keeping this land captive. Your cage must grow still more complex: you must construct more restraints. Literature that serves as steel bars, schools that serve as locks, textbooks that are prison guards. What keys are available to us to dismantle this perpetually tightening confinement?” [6]

Free from disciplinary strongholds, these voices thus present and represent corresponding notions of land and landscape as emergent, avant-garde, and retroactive theory. [7] Debasing colonial narratives steeped in the suppression or muffling of land by lame surrogates such as ‘site,’ ‘area,’ ‘lot,’ ‘property,’ ‘real estate,’ ‘district’, or ‘jurisdiction,’ the project rethinks professional languages and spatial discourses guarded by the paternalistic practices of architecture, planning, and development. Their wide sweeping reliance on Eurocentric narratives of western theory, city-centric generalizations of the Anthropocene, religiously apocalyptic projections of sea level rise, and chronic IPCC-led climate change catastrophism narrowly confine the complex understanding of built environments, territorial regimes, and their dynamic processes. Cloaked by technological positivism, scientific imperialism, environmental racism, and settler colonialism, these over-engineered and mechanized means serve only privileged populations of well-developed nation states at the expense of others that are often left outside or erased by the neoliberal vacuum of consumption and corporate bubble of accumulation.

Transnationalism, in the globalization of the design disciplines of architecture, urban planning, and civil engineering for example, has coincidentally if not strategically slipped through the cracks and cleavages of territorial borders to avoid the boundaries of discourses on the role of the nation state in design; including its role, its extents, its influence, and its historical impact through settler-colonialism. That strategic oversight reinforces the nationalism of the organization of design disciplines themselves (the ‘American’ Society of Landscape Architects, ‘American’ Institute of Architects, ‘American’ Planning Association, or ‘United States’ Army Corps of Engineers to name a few), that normalizes the nationalization of representation, including spatial and environmental discourses. The nationalism(s) of design discourse (from education to professional licensing) is a direct product of white supremacy, of a dominant white majority, whose hegemonic influence has excluded so much and so many at the expense of marginalizing the ontologies of the displaced and the dispossessed — by identity and polity — often, if not always, by force.

Reacting to and confronting dominant spatial canons from two former volumes of shared architectural genre, this project of compilation thus draws from the ongoing revolutionary era of spatial change around the 1990s to the present. The format of this 25-year outlook, circa 1993, specifically builds on the legacy of two previous anthologies while providing a distinctive break from their implicit Eurocentric disciplinary predispositions and settler-colonial underpinnings. The first includes Joan Ockman’s Architecture Culture, a documentary anthology published in 1993 in collaboration with Edward Eigen that profiles readings from practicing architects in the postwar reconstructive period of 1943 to 1968. Published a few years later in 1998, the second is Michael Hays’ Architecture Theory since 1968 with readings spanning the turbulent period from 1968 to 1993. Both prompted by Bernard Tschumi, then Dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation between 1988 and 2003, Hays and Ockman employ the quintessential year of 1968 as contextual benchmark and mile marker for the respective beginning and end of their collected writings on urbanism expressed through the discipline of architecture. Now well recognized, the end of the 1960s witnessed a period of time that retrospectively saw the dawn of civil rights and rise of labor movements through clashes with the state.[8] Simultaneously, it also coincided with a period of major territorial change, one that was observed in several key writings, namely The New Industrial State (1967) by Canadian-American economist John Kenneth Galbraith, “in the 20th century, capital became more important than land,” a few years prior to the work of French sociologist Henri Lefebvre’s La Révolution Urbaine (1970) declaring that “the urban (urban space, urban landscape) remains unseen.” [9]

If then, the revolution in land entailed a revolution in forms and relations of economic and political power, any study of the history of the built environment today must open insights onto claims, constructions, capitalizations, cessions, and surrenders inscribed in the ground and associated with the flow and concentration of capital.  Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said observed in 1994 that:

“The main battle in imperialism is over land, of course; but when it came to who owned the land, who had the right to settle and work on it, who kept it going, who won it back, and who now plans its future — these issues were reflected, contested, and even for a time decided in narrative. As one critic has suggested, nations themselves are narrations. The power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them.” [10]

The revival in the epistemologies of land as a cultural subject and the emergence of landscape as a political system of representation (or mis-representation) across the urban arts therefore must preclude the study of urbanization in relation to the construction and deconstruction — past, present, and future — of emerging power structures and new empires in the making. [11] Yet, as Anthony D. King observed in the early 1990s about settler-colonial institutions and fields of knowledge: 

“Considering its impact on contemporary urban, political, economic, social, and cultural life, the historical experience of colonialism and imperialism is greatly under-researched.” [12] 

Corresponding with the marginalization of architectural theory and planning policy in economic or political spheres during the last two decades, the compilation of these readings thus marks another distinct yet poorly documented period of intellectual transformation that in fact is catalyzed as an inter-generational shift and swiftly enacting actual spatial transformations that have proliferated in the past two decades — from the removal of Confederate monuments to the advent of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The voices brought together here point towards alternative origins that move away from disciplinary canons while at the same drawing different and deeper historical strands of design’s influence. Through an original compilation of texts, images and excerpts, this project therefore presents the agency of landscape as a pretext for current and future practices rooted in the deeply engrained grounds of urbanization (including counter-urbanization and dis-urbanization); grounds entangled in the complexities of land, law, language, life, belief, being, terrain, and territory.

By mapping an understanding of land through the political system of landscape representation, this body of thought builds a platform for present-day intervention and establishes alternative precedents that stack up the potential for change in current investments, ongoing methodologies, and future scenarios. As the historically dominant white, Anglo-American majority is decentered, the change and shift for which, we believe, the design disciplines (with their related institutions and professional associations) are wholly unprepared for — pedagogically, structurally, intellectually — considering the unprecedented demographic shift that is occurring now, and for the next 25 years: 

“The point at which the non-Hispanic White alone population will comprise less than 50 percent of the nation’s total population has been described as the point at which we become a ‘majority-minority’ nation. According to these projections, the majority-minority crossover will occur in 2044… [at which point,] the United States is projected to become a plurality nation.” [13]

The ambition of this project is thus to rebase and displace mainstream urban discourse (focused exclusively on cities through the lens of divisive disciplines) by empowering voices of the marginalized, the suppressed, and the impoverished; by reifying the meaning of plurality of identity and of humanity, underscoring difference throughout the living world, as well as casting light on narratives of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color that lie outside the center of dominant institutional thought and disciplinary factions.      

Seen through eyes of these millennial ghost writers, this collection of work therefore critically positions the vital urgency of ecologic change and prescience of landscape representation with a wide spectrum of peoples and publics whose struggles for spatial justice, infrastructural equity, economic empowerment, and ecologic freedom are premised in the future of existing lands, buried below the surface of states, to be found across emerging territories and scales of influence yet to come.

* * * 

About the Authors

Dr. Ghazal Jafari is a designer of Persian and Azeri descent and Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia, traditional lands of the Monacan People.

Hernán Bianchi-Benguria is a planner, architect, and PhD Candidate in Geography at the University of Toronto, traditional lands of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River, covered by Treaty 13.

Dr. Pierre Bélanger is a settler designer, trained as landscape architect, originally from Montréal and Ottawa, now in Boston, traditional lands of the Massachusett Peoples, territory of the Wampanoag and Nipmuc Nations.

Background Image: Video still of Rodney King beaten by police officers of the Los Angeles County Police Department, March 3, 1991. Video & Transcript (CW: Violence & extreme Brutality) For the significance of this event in relation to the racialization of media, see Brandy Monk-Payton, "Blackness and Televisual Reparations " Film Quarterly 71, no.2 (2017): 12–18.

This essay is an introduction to c.1993, a compilation project of multimedia works by authors, artists, and activists.  

1. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s early work on racialized and gendered violence (targeting Black Women) contextualizes her extensive scholarship on intersectionality: “Over the last two decades, women have organized against the almost, routine violence that shapes their lives. Drawing from the strength of shared experience, women have recognized that the political demands of millions speak more powerfully than the pleas of a few isolated voices. This politicization in turn has transformed the way we understand violence against women. For example, battering and rape, once seen as private (family matters) and aberrational (errant sexual aggression), are now largely recognized as part of a broad-scale system of domination that affects women as a class. This process of recognizing as social and systemic what was formerly perceived as isolated and individual has also characterized the identity politics of African Americans, other people of color, and gays and lesbians, among others. For all these groups, identity-based politics has been a source of strength, community, and intellectual development.” See “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43, no.6 (1991): 1241 –1242, 1299.

2. Marginalized discourses and peripheral subjects also form their own cores. As anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing observes, “the zones of unpredictability at the edges of discursive stability, where contradictory discourses overlap, or where discrepant kinds of meaning-making converge; these are what I call margins.” See “From the Margins,” Cultural Anthropology 9, no.3 (1994): 279.

3. Systemic injustices are at the core of this 25-year compilation of readings. By no means is this period of revolutionary change exclusively limited to the 1990s. A key milestone, for example, in this compilation of readings is the 1987 Report titled “Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States: A National Report on the Racial and Socio-Economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites” by the Commission for Racial Justice. Representing 1.7 million members, the United Church of Christ’s Commission addressed and confronted the systemic, spatial, and environmental nature of racism: “Racism is racial prejudice plus power. Racism is the intentional or unintentional use of power to isolate separate and exploit of others. This use of power is based on a belief in superior racial origin, identity or supposed racial characteristics. Racism confers certain privileges on and defends the dominant group, which in turn sustains and perpetuates racism. Both consciously and unconsciously, racism is enforced and maintained by the legal, cultural, religious, educational, economic, political, environmental, and military institutions of societies. Racism is more than just a personal attitude; it is the institutionalized form of that attitude.” (x)

4. Mary Louise Pratt, “Arts of the Contact Zone” Profession (1991): 34. The racialization of knowledge is particularly significant: “Instead of encounter, in fact, our present system of knowledge, inherited from enlightened colonialism and Eurocentric modernity, repetitively constitutes blackness as a discreet (and hostile) category that routinely ‘troubles’ an already settled whiteness. This paradigmatic perspective on race and blackness, in its denial of an entangled racial history produced through geographies of encounter, normalizes practices of colonization as it naturalizes overdevelopment, accumulation, and land ownership as identifiable-seeable locales of emancipation.” See Katherine McKittrick, “On Plantations, Prisons, and a Black Sense of Place” Social & Cultural Geography 12, no.8 (2011): 950.

5. See Katherine McKittrick, “On Plantations, Prisons, and a Black Sense of Place” Social & Cultural Geography 12, no.8 (2011): 950.

6. See Deborah A. Miranda, “Teaching on Stolen Ground” in Jennifer Sinor and Rona Kaufman (editors), Placing the Academy: Essays on Landscape, Work, and Identity(Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2007): 182, 184–85.

7. In 1992, landscape practitioner James Corner explained the correlation between the meaning of landscape production and the semiotics of spatial effects, at a time that preceded an explosive period of post-modernist landscape projects. See James Corner, “Representation and Landscape: Drawing and Making in the Landscape Medium” Word & Image 8, no.3 (1992): 243–275. As part of a small and emergent body of work in the early 1990s, the readings compiled here respond to the disciplinary exclusion and marginalization of the field of landscape itself, including its attendant urban and environmental relationalities within design discourse. Informing the premise of this project in the wake of two aforementioned anthologies edited in the 1990s, respectively by Michael Hays (Architecture Theory since 1968) and Joan Ockman (Architecture Culture 1943–1968: A Documentary Anthology), writings involved in the edification of the architect as heroic figure and over-theorization of architecture as central building discipline continue to be sustained even in the wake of a crisis in theory and identity since the 1980s. For example, A. Krista Sykes’ anthology Constructing a New Agenda: Architectural Theory 1993–2009 (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010) and Kate Nesbitt’s Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965–1995 (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996) in the United States, as well as Arie Graafland and Jasper de Haam’s The Critical Landscape (Rotterdam, NL: 010 Publishers, 1996) in the Netherlands, are but a few of the many attempts to recover some form of significance to the architectural discipline and the role of architects during a period of dwindling cultural relevance, design authorship, and spatial influence. The narrow disciplinary focus of these anthologies not only exclude significant changes in the body of work related to the complexity of the urban environment but also overlook the pluralization of spatial practices that urban environments entail. Yet, by the early 1990s, practicing landscape architects and urbanists alike were engaging in active recovery and reconstruction of the landscape subject; beyond that of the singular, heroic figure of the architect. For example, in 1981, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui published an extensive folio of contemporary urban projects and territorial design by landscape architects from France (with architecte-paysagistes such as Alexandre Chemetoff, Michel Corajoud, and Jacques Simon to name a few), while American book publisher Zone in New York published its first, groundbreaking (albeit hotly contested), 484-page, double-volume edition with then emerging designer Bruce Mau. According to editors Sanford Kwinter and Michel Feher, its focus was on the contemporary metropolis and its political regime, beyond the classical diagram of urbanism seen through the limiting focus of the social sciences confined to the city as object of study. That same year, The Princeton Journal (Thematic Studies in Architecture) published in tow, its Volume 2: Landscape, only a year following the journal’s inauguration, a volume now recognized as a defining moment in design criticism. The incisive words of architectural historian and French urban theorist Françoise Choay clarify the crisis in the discipline of architecture. In a short and terse critique condemning the flawed jury process of a design for the Parc de la Villette in Paris (France), whose 1983 verdict for the winning entry by Bernard Tschumi was reportedly “inspired by fear”, Choay argued instead for the recognition of the “casual, humorous, complex, realistic, and actually innovative” (p.213) entry by then Office for Metropolitan Architecture led by Rem Koolhaas. As Choay deftly pointed out, “innovative because in the present crisis of architecture — a crisis of status, form, and meaning — instead of once more proposing a new model and a new image, it proposes a method, thus exposing the gigantic blank of a gigantic program.” (p.213) Choay concludes her critique by pointing out that OMA’s second-place entry emphasized the contradictory nature of the “over-inflated” program, if not “over-constraining” requirements for the park’s design, unexpectedly resolving the proposal by “[breaking] off with the totalitarianism of form” and “[making] place for the unpredictable,” cleverly locating the proposal between different urban traditions of the French garden; that is between “both the classical and the Haussmannian.”(p.214) See Françoise Choay, “Critique” in The Princeton Journal - Thematic Studies in Architecture 2 “Landscape” (1985): 211 –220.

8. The content of this compilation project is retrospectively informed by two observations from two footnotes respectively by Michael Hays and Joan Ockman. In Architecture Theory since 1968 (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998), Hays observed in the introduction to his book that “a different, younger audience, whose relation to consumption is altogether altered, whose memories may not include any notions of resistance or negation, may have to produce another kind of theory premised on neither the concept of reification nor the apparatus of the sign, both of which have their ultimate referent in the vexatious territory of reproducibility and commodity consumption. Indeed, since 1993, there have been important developments in architecture theory not covered by this anthology.” In the accompanying footnote to this explanation, Hays further adds that “feminism and identity politics are only the most obvious of themes that have produced massive numbers of studies since 1993 not primarily concerned with reification.” (p.xiv, xvn8) Conversely, in her documentary anthology Architecture Culture 1943–1968 (New York, NY: The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York and Rizzoli International Publications, 1993), Ockman remarked that “naturally, despite the attempt to be as discriminating as possible in such choices, the ultimate compilation represents a subjective and occasionally pragmatic judgment and makes no claim to be exhaustive or ‘correct.’ On the contrary, the reader is invited to argue with both its inclusions and omissions.” To this explanation, Ockman further notes that “it might be stated in anticipation that a few of the latter were owed to the difficulty of obtaining a text efficient enough to accommodate the present format.” (p.23) The disciplinary boundaries of architectural discourse are precisely at issue here, as they are persistently (and uncritically) reproduced at the expense of writings on urbanism, urban planning, and environment. A. Krista Sykes’ anthology Constructing a New Agenda: Architectural Theory 1993–2009 (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010); Michael K. Hays’s The Oppositions Reader Selected Readings from a Journal of for Ideas and Criticism in Architecture 1973–1984 (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998); or Kate Nesbitt’s compilation Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory (New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996) are but a few that implicitly and explicitly identify this lacuna yet avoid its complex, discursive, and practical implications in spite of the clear signal and fair warning issued by Bernard Tschumi back in 1976: “Social conflicts increasingly focus on environmental problems that eventually become a pretext for insurgency. The crisis is a consequence of exploitation as well as product of urbanization. The concentration of power and the complexity of urban networks make cities most vulnerable to revolutionary activities. […] Environmental knowledge (not building) can contribute to polarizing urban conflicts and inducing radical change. See “The Environmental Trigger,” in A Continuing Experiment: Learning and Teaching at the Architectural Association, edited by James Gowan (London, UK: Architectural Press, 1976): 89 –99.

9. See John Kenneth Galbraith, The New Industrial State (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1967): 494; and Henri Lefebvre, The Urban Revolution translated by Robert Bononno (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2010[1970]): 29.

10. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York, NY: Knopf, 1993): xii–xiii.

11. In 1991, Dell Upton provides an important, albeit disciplinary characterization and comparison of the distinctive and autonomous histories of the field of landscape in his “Architectural History or Landscape History? Journal of Architectural Education 44, no.4 (August 1991): 195–199. “While architectural history, like most studies of the material environment, focuses on the eye, we experience the landscape through all our senses, and the evidence of our senses, or rather the categories that we use to interpret it, is rarely internally consistent. Our ears, noses, and sometimes even our fingers and tongues make connections, associations, and interpretations that may differ drastically from those our eyes suggest. While our eyes isolate the building as a unit of analysis, the other senses organize the landscape differently. To put it another way, each of the senses may perceive a different landscape in which the individual building is irrelevant. Our experience of the material world is thus a complex, multisensory, constantly changing tangle of relationships that cannot be captured on mylar or film.” (p.197)

12. Anthony D. King, Urbanism, Colonialism, and the World-Economy: Cultural and Spatial Foundations of the World Urban System (London, UK: Routledge, 1990): 2.

13. Sandra L. Colby and Jennifer M. Ortman (US Census Bureau), “Projections of the Size and Composition of the U.S. Population: 2014 to 2060” Current Population Report No. P25–1143 (March 3, 2015): 9, 13.

[ published in coordination with 2021 LABASH Virtual Conference held at Cornell University, April 9-11, 2021 ]