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Call for Papers—Landscapes in the Making

Dumbarton Oaks
May 6  –  7, 2022
Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium, in partnership with the Mellon Initiative in Urban Landscape Studies

Symposiarchs: Stephen Daniels (University of Nottingham), Dell Upton (University of California, Los Angeles), and Thaïsa Way (Dumbarton Oaks)

How might historians narrate landscape design within broader human stories? How might alternative histories of landscape creation read, of its manifold makings and meanings in various periods and places focused on the people who imagine and shape the land? This call for papers seeks to identify research that looks beyond canonical histories of design and architecture to include the people, particularly socially marginalized communities, who are involved day-to-day in its making and meaning, including commemorating its past and planning its future. This call seeks to engage projects that generate counternarratives that reveal how alternative views of the past shape visions of the present and the future.

This is the third symposium in a five-year series exploring what it would mean to curate histories of making landscapes. Building on symposia exploring landscapes of segregation and resistance in 2020 and the Land Back movement and Indigenous readings of land in 2021, this symposium seeks to interrogate stories of labor, craft, and stewardship as the work of making landscape, foregrounding those who have so often been silenced, including women, LGBTQ+ people, Black and Indigenous people, immigrants, and working-class laborers. We consider that the making of landscape engages ongoing social, cultural, and physical processes, including labor, craft, maintenance and stewardship, as well as materials and production. We recognize that human making is more than a matter of people shaping “materials,” and this is surely true of many cultures and cultural practices of working with the natural world, notably those which actively seek to sustain it. We are interested in the boundaries and tensions between the formal design and ongoing production of landscapes, including questions of materials, economies, livelihood, technologies, power, dispossession, and topographies.

We welcome interest from a broad array of scholars, including historical geographers, economic historians, anthropologists, and social and political scientists. We will consider papers about landscapes across the globe, from the dense urban settlements of Latin America to those of the African continent, from the suburbs of Detroit to the spiritual Dawnlands of what we know of as New England. We are deeply interested in “urban landscapes,” the fabric and geography of urban land use and distribution, alongside the more familiar public realm of parks, plazas, streets, alleys, and infrastructure. We are open to papers about ancient places as well as those that explore modern landscapes. The intention is to bring together an expansive collection of papers to frame alternative questions as historians of land, place, and landscape, offering models for a people’s history. The anticipated edited volume would contribute to the teaching of landscape history as well as to the broader scholarship and teaching in environmental, urban, and design histories.

Submission requirements

  • Submit the online form including a 500-word abstract by July 15, 2021.
  • Coauthored submissions are welcome, but travel reimbursement and accommodations can only be offered to the principal author. If the event can be held in person, invited speakers will be offered economy-class travel reimbursement and accommodations to participate in the symposium.
  • Invited speakers will be asked to commit to participating in the GLS 2022 symposium and should plan to attend May 6–7, 2022.

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“Gardens at labor homes add to incomes. Tulare migrant camp. Visalia, California,” ca. 1940, Arthur Rothstein, photographer. Image courtesy the Library of Congress, from the Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information Photograph Collection