Acknowledging Land: Architecuture and Territorial Claims

Parsons School of Design: Sch. Art and Dsgn Hist and Th

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Acknowledging Land
Fall 2024
Taught By: Jonah Rowen
Section: A

CRN: 17503

Credits: 3

Making space into property is no small feat. It requires claimants to determine boundaries of the area they intend to control, marking it as territory, and finally excluding others from that domain. The clearest expression of such possession is architecture. On the site of a given property—a lot, an estate, or a colony—a building signifies not just dominion, but also consensus among the society of the prospective builders that they are entitled to do with that territory what they would like. Architecture at once transforms a now-delineated, quantified space into an object of possession, and brings that space into being as a discrete parcel of land that can be possessed at all. What are the specific mechanisms, though, by which architectural design and construction contribute to processes of asserting ownership over space outside of its exterior walls? How have architects historically enabled regimes of enclosure and land expropriation? What are the aesthetics, external and internal, of projecting property claims beyond the bounded space of a given building? This course studies the techniques that architects, surveyors, colonial administrators, and others involved in building have used to express landholding. Historically, this has often meant exporting recognizable forms of hegemonic powers where that architecture has not predominated, as in European colonial construction, or U.S. incursions into places inhabited by Indigenous groups. Transposing the architecture of one place onto another has facilitated imposition of social and legal systems, such as enslavement. In other situations, it has manifested in defensible barriers around plots of land, as in fences or hedgerows. Less tangible modes of demarcating spaces, like financial instruments proffered along racial lines, have also had aesthetic effects on built environments. Sources ranging from classic readings on property to recent architectural theory and from formative buildings of colonialism to contemporary sites of contestation will illuminate how architecture renders abstract spaces into commodified territory. Such cases will provide the backdrop for envisioning alternative models of possession and inhabitation.

Open to: All university undergraduate degree students. Pre-requisite(s): first-year university writing course and at least one prior history or methods course in art, media, film, or visual culture.

College: Parsons School of Design (PS)

Department: Sch. Art and Dsgn Hist and Th (ADHT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 20

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2024 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2024 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Open*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 3:52pm EDT 7/12/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Monday
Times: 9:00am - 11:40am
Building: 6 East 16th Street
Room: 611
Date Range: 8/26/2024 - 12/15/2024