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Segregation and Resistance in America’s Urban Landscapes

Dumbarton Oaks Vimeo Channel
July 1  –  September 14, 2020
This virtual symposium addresses the everyday spatial practices through which marginalized communities resisted oppressions and constructed alternative or counter narratives and spaces.

. . . 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, colonialism, and resistance as they shape urban landscapes are essential areas of study for landscape historians alongside urban historians, geographers, anthropologists, among others. This symposium brings scholars and teachers together to engage with the urban landscape and environment in the Americas through interrogating the means by which inequities, displacement, and spatial violence have informed the creation, development, and use of spaces and sites in the public realm. Equally important, we seek to recognize the everyday spatial practices through which communities resisted such oppressions and constructed alternative or counter narratives and spaces. This project builds on Dumbarton Oaks’ Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies Initiative, and in particular, the 2019 Colloquium on “Landscapes of Enslavement.”

While traditionally we gathered here at Dumbarton Oaks, this year we reimagined our annual symposium as a robust virtual investigation and discussion. Thus, our traditional two-day symposium will instead be shared as a series of monthly virtual events over the course of the summer. Each month from July to September, three pre-recorded papers will available for listening via the Dumbarton Oaks Vimeo channel. At the close of each month, we will host a facilitated discussion on the papers with invited participants on Zoom Webinars, allowing the audience to ask questions via a chat format.


Programs in urban landscape studies at Dumbarton Oaks are supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through its initiative in “Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities,” intended to foster the joint contributions that the humanities and the design and planning disciplines may make to understanding the processes and effects of burgeoning urbanization.

“Outside Looking In,” Mobile, Alabama, 1956. Photo by Gordon Parks. © The Gordon Parks Foundation