Landscape Fieldwork: People, Politics, Practices (with FAS)

Landscape fieldwork offers the means to understand the complexities of landscapes. Through a people-centered approach, this lecture course explores landscape architecture’s ethical and political power to shape the world. A central premise of the course is that experiential knowledge—gained from the embodied engagement of landscape fieldwork—can help to revise how we understand and use western canons of landscape knowledge and offer new possibilities for the design imagination.

The course is structured in five parts, each of which consists of 3–4 class sessions focused on a particular site, including smaller-scale public spaces, border landscapes, sacred groves, archipelagos, and regions. We will concentrate in the postcolonial and Islamic worlds—the Arabian Peninsula, the Caribbean, Brazil and West Africa, and Western Europe. We will study diverse literatures, ethnographies, and interviews, using and critiquing established landscape ethnographic methods. In doing so, we apply the descriptive, participatory, and reflective aspects of ethnography to design, and the imaginative, projective, and prescriptive capacities of design to ethnography. By cultivating this design/ethnographic ground, this course opens up new possibilities for understanding the present and imaging the future.

This course provides students with training in ethnographic fieldwork methods that can be applied in other academic and professional projects. On completion of the course, students will be equipped to conduct their own landscape fieldwork projects, either alone or collectively. During the semester, students will:

  1. Apply landscape fieldwork as a tool for knowledge-building
  2. Develop theoretical positions arising from fieldwork
  3. Identify non-written forms of note taking
  4. Experiment with visualizing social phenomena and the lived experiences of spaces
  5. Produce and analyze collective ethnographic data
  6. Imagine and recommend design and policy propositions informed by fieldwork

Grades are based on participation, completion of assignments, a remote fieldwork project, and a final design proposal.

There are no prerequisites. Undergraduates as well as masters and doctoral students are welcome to enroll.

The course is cross-listed between the Department of Landscape Architecture, the Department of Anthropology, and the Department of African and African American Studies. Where possible, the synergy between fields will be cultivated to maximize exchange between them.

This course will be taught in person beginning the week of January 24th.It will be held in Tozzer 203.