Spring 2021

a black and white photo taken from below looking up at a large skyscraper as it lengthens into a cloudy sky

photo / provided

Black and Indigenous Metropolitan Ecologies (ARCH 4408/6408, AMST 6809, ASRC 6819, FGSS 6819, SHUM 6819)

Time: Tuesdays, 11:20 a.m.–1:45 p.m.
Location: Online

Course Instructor:
Tao Leigh Goffe, assistant professor of Africana studies and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies

Course Description:
Across the hemisphere from the port cities of New York to New Orleans to Kingston, Jamaica, to Havana, Cuba to Toronto, how is the entangled dispossession of Native sovereignty and African enslavement reflected in the land and architecture? In this seminar, we will examine the many design structures of racial enclosure in urban spaces as an extension of the plantation. Troubling the urban-rural binary, our discussions will be framed by the dark blueprints of race and space—place and decolonization—and the larger questions of racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and climate crisis in the wake of the ecological violence of the plantation. Consider Wall Street as a metonym for US wealth accumulation and regulation, but also consider the dark underside of it as the site of the historic auction block where enslaved people were traded in early New York City and the African Burial Ground located in Lower Manhattan. With special attention to the architecture of marked and unmarked burial, we will consider the landscape of hemispheric mourning and cemeteries. The echo of Native infrastructure and burial is also present in Downtown Manhattan. Broadway is a metonym for American theatre and commerce, but it is also the dark underside of the erasure of the Native infrastructure of the Wickquasgeck Trail and Lenape and Munsee people carved out of the forest. Towards a framework for global indigeneity, we will examine the spatial politics of settlement with special attention to the fluidity of port cities environments, representations, and ecologies.

Brief assignments will involve digital curating and cognitive mapping in conjunction with the collections and tools available at the Rare and Distinctive Collections in Cornell Library and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum. Students will have the resources to develop innovative methodologies (curated collections, digital tools, video essays, etc.), and will be able to work on material or a location connected to their own interests as they investigate and imagine urban possibilities. 

Call for Applications:
The Spring 2021 Urban Representation Lab, "Black and Indigenous Metropolitan Ecologies," is an innovative seminar for graduate students in the humanities and design disciplines. Urban Representations Labs are offered under the auspices of Cornell University's Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities grant and are organized by the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and the Society for the Humanities.

Selected students receive a $1,500 stipend to support a final project. Since final projects will be collaborative, students with diverse backgrounds and skillsets (i.e. ethnography, film and video, critical theory, digital mapping, architecture, fine art, landscape architecture, city planning, etc.) are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be in their first three years of graduate training or enrolled in a graduate professional program. Advanced undergraduate students may apply, but preference will be given to graduate students.

Materials to be submitted: (1) C.V. (2) A two-page statement describing your interest in and qualifications for the seminar including: a. your state of graduate study; b. your background or interests in urban representation; c. your interest in collaborative research and your knowledge of various methods and tools we may bring to it; and d. your background with relevant experiences such as curating, architecture, etc., and your experience with digital skills such as GIS, web design, internet art, photography, video, sound recording, or any other relevant information. No letters of recommendation are required.

Questions should be directed to Rebecca Elliott, re255@cornell.edu.

Applications must be submitted via http://urbanismseminars.cornell.edu/apply by December 14, 2020.