Race and Gender: Landscape Architecture as Practice, Profession, and Discipline

This seminar interrogates Landscape Architecture, both the production of a discipline and a profession, by exploring what it would mean to place women and people of color in the center of such discourses.

As scholars and journalists have increasingly argued, the United States has been shaped at its core by concepts of race and gender.  Histories ranging from democracy to that of mortgages and property ownership have been shown to be deeply grounded in the ideas of race and shaped by assumptions of gender identities, differences, and asymmetries. As landscape architecture emerged in the early 20th century, questions of gender and race were core to the definition of the practice, the development as a profession, and its emergence as a discipline within the academy.

We will explore the historiography of the discipline and practice and draw from related fields to demonstrate how others have addressed omissions and re-written historic narratives to acknowledge stories that have been ignored or neglected.  This will include the scholarship of Kimberlee Crenshaw on “intersectionality” alongside that of Katherine McKittrick, Saidiya Hartman, Tiffany Lethoba King, and Tiya Miles, among others. We will work to center the narratives of women and people of color in the shaping of the practices and materials that describe the profession and discipline of landscape architecture. Such re-centering is evident in the scholarship of architectural and cultural landscape history including Dell Upton, John Michael Vlach, and Patricia Morton, as well as Charles Davis, Irene Cheng, and Mabel Wilson, and has been expanded by landscape historians and cultural geographers such as Richard Schein, Dianne Harris, George Lipsitz, Rebecca Ginsburg, Paul Groth, and Sarah Lopez.

By revising our understanding of history and historiographies of landscape architecture as a constellation of practices the describe a profession and a discipline, we open the door to a richer and more complex future for designers, and even more importantly, for our communities.

Learning Objectives:
     • interrogate the historiography of landscape architecture
     • inquire into the development of the practices that define a profession and a discipline we recognize as landscape architecture
     • explore the ways in which gender and race among identifying categories have shaped shared practices
     • interrogate how a reading of the layered histories of place and practice inform design as a discipline and a profession

This seminar is for graduate students in design as well as from the humanities and social sciences

This course will meet for the first time on Wednesday, September 7th.