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The Land Lab

A community of learners studying land in its manifold forms and possibilities

        Overview                 Convenors                 Format                 Themes                  Syllabus                 Student Work       

Week One.  31 Aug.  Introduction and Orientation



Week Two.  7 Sept.  Episteme


Tsing, Anna. “The Buck, the Bull, and the Dream of the Stag: Some Unexpected Weeds of the Anthropocene.” Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 42, no. 1 (June 26, 2017): 3–21.


Brand, Dionne.  A Map to the Door of No Return (excerpt).


J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, 2016.  “A Structure, Not an Event”: Settler Colonialism and Enduring Indigeneity


Land Matters Podcast: Addressing Structural Racism in Urban Planning, Lincoln Land Institute, 2021.


Woods, Clyde. Pages 1-39. Development Arrested: Race, Power and the Blues in the Mississippi Delta. Verso, 1998.     


Roy, Ananya. “Urban Informality: Toward an Epistemology of Planning.” Journal of the American Planning Association 71, no. 2 (2005): 147–58.


Recommended Readings


Sanderson, Eric. Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City. Abrams, 2009.


Bhandar, Brenna.  2018.  Colonial Lives of Property:  Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership.


Latour, Bruno. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993.


Yi-Fu Tuan’s Space and Place.  University of Minnesota, 1977.   


Moore, Jason. "The Double Internality:  History as if Nature Matters." Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital. New York: Verso, 2015.


Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1, no. 1 (September 8, 2012). Tuck and Yang (2012), Decolonization is not a Metaphor.


Myers, Natasha. “Ungrid-Able Ecologies: Decolonizing the Ecological Sensorium in a 10,000 Year-Old NaturalCultural Happening.” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 3, 2 (2017): 1–24.

Week Three.  14 Sept.  Possession


Greer, Allan.  Commons and Enclosure in the Colonization of North America.  The American Historical Review, 117, 2 (2012): 365–386.


Moreton-Robinson, Aileen.  Chapters Intro + 1.  The White Possessive:  Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty.  2015.


No Right to Own?: The Early Twentieth-Century "Alien Land Laws" as a Prelude to Internment, Keith Aoki.


Hirsch, Arnold. “With or Without Jim Crow: Black Residential Segregation in the U.S.” In Urban Policy in Twentieth-Century America, edited by Arnold Richard Hirsch and Raymond A. Mohl. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1993.


The House We Live In (short video on the mortgage and intergenerational wealth).


Butler, Judith and Athanasiou, Athena.  Dispossession: The Performative in the Political. Chapters 1+2 (pages 1-37).


Recommended Readings


Polanyi, Karl. "Habitation versus Improvement." The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1944.


Elkins, Caroline, and Susan Pedersen. Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century, 1–20. New York: Routledge, 2005.


Lumpkins, Charles, and Charles L. Lumpkins. American Pogrom: The East St. Louis Race Riot and Black Politics. 1st edition. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2008.


Jones, Tiya. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones et al. New York: One World, 2021.


Sugrue, Thomas J. The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Revised edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.


Trounstine, Jessica. Segregation by Design: Local Politics and Inequality in American Cities. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018.


McDonald, Michael J., and John Muldowny. TVA and the Dispossessed: The Resettlement of Population in the Norris Dam Area. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1981.


The 98 Acres in Albany Project (on an urban renewal site and its history)



Week Four.  21 Sept.  Demarcation / Continental


Dispossessing the Wilderness: Yosemite Indians and the National Park Ideal, 1864-1930. Mark Spence.  Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 65, No. 1 (Feb., 1996), pp. 27-59.


Introduction: The Plantation, the Postplantation, and the Afterlives of Slavery. Gwen Bergner. American Literature (2019) 91 (3): 447–457.


Asian Reflections on the American Landscape, Report for the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Pages 27-57.


Masco, Joseph. "Mutant Ecologies: Radioactive Life in Post-Cold War New Mexico." The Nuclear Borderlands: The Manhattan Project in Post-Cold War New Mexico. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2006.


Ball, Jeremy.  Chapter 4, "Little Storybook Town: Space and Labor in a Company Town in Colonial Angola." In Marcelo Borges, ed. Company towns: labor, space, and power relations across time and continents.  New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012.


Silva, Sued Ferreira da. “Brasilia, a Story Seen from the Roadside: Narratives of Landscape Transformation and the Technological Sublime.” In The Routledge Handbook of Infrastructure Design, ed. Joseph Heathcott. New York: Routledge, 2022.


Recommended Readings


The Waterlines Project


Company Towns in the U.S. 1880s to 1935;  PBS interviews on Company Towns


The U.S. Land-Grant University System: An Overview.


Land Grab Universities.  Web Site.


Claborn, John. “W. E. B. Du Bois at the Grand Canyon: Nature, History, and Race in Darkwater.” In The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism, ed.Greg Garrard. Oxford, 2014.


Akins, Damon B., and William J. Bauer, Jr. We Are the Land: A History of Native California. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2021.


Environmental Colonialism, Criminalization and Resistance: Puerto Rican Mobilizations for Environmental Justice in the 21st Century.  2014. José M. Atiles-Osoria


Cronon, William. Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992.


Sayers, Daniel. A Desolate Place for a Defiant People. University Press of Florida, 2016.

Deutsch, Sarah, and Richard Etulain. Making a Modern U.S. West: The Contested Terrain of a Region and Its Borders, 1898-1940. University of Nebraska Press, 2022.

Week Five.  28 Sept.  Demarcation / Transnational


Candiani, Vera S. "Living in a Fluid Landscape." Dreaming of Dry Land: Environmental Transformation in Colonial Mexico City. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2014.


Gillem, Mark. Chapter 7, "Rewarding Realignment: South Korea's Land Partnership Plan." America Town: Building Outposts of Empire.  University of Minnesota Press, 2007, pp. 201-231.


Dolan, Catherine S. “Gender and Witchcraft in Agrarian Transition: The Case of Kenyan Horticulture.” Development and Change 33, 4 (2002): 659–81.


Cullather, Nick. "A Continent of Peasants." The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2010.  Pp. 72-107.


Easterling, Keller.  "Zone."  From Extrastatecraft.  New York: Verso, 2016.


Recommended Readings


Kumar, Dharma. Colonialism, Property and the State. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.


Ghertner, D. Asher. “Lively Lands: The Spatial Reproduction Squeeze and the Failure of the Urban Imaginary.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 44, no. 4 (2020): 561–81.


Vitz, Matthew. A City on a Lake: Urban Political Ecology and the Growth of Mexico City. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.


Rama, Angel. The Lettered City. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.


Nunes Silva, Carlos, ed. Urban Planning in Subsaharan Africa. New York: Routledge 2015.


Zeynep Çelik, Urban Forms and Colonial Confrontations: Algiers under French Rule. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997.


Martin Murray, Taming the Disorderly City: The Spatial Landscape of Johannesburg after Apartheid. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008.


Mukherjee, Aditya. "Empire: How Colonial India Made Modern Britain." Economic and Political Weekly 45, 50 (2010): 73–82.


Korieh, Chima. The Land Has Changed: History, Society, and Gender in Colonial Nigeria. Illustrated edition. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2010.


Week Six.  5 Oct.  Entanglements / Inheritance


Beckert, Sven. Introduction + Chapter 1.. Empire of Cotton:  A Global History. 2014.


Silkenat, David. Introduction + Chapter 1, "An Exhausted Soil." An Environmental History of Slavery in the American South. 2022.  


Wells-Barnett, Ida B. "What White Folks Got From the Riot." The Arkansas Race Riot. Legare Street Press, 2021.


Kelley, Robin D. G. "The Sharecropper's Union."  Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists during the Great Depression. Twenty-Fifth Anniversary edition. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015.


Barnard, Timothy P. "Nature's Colony." Nature’s Colony: Empire, Nation and Environment in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. National University of Singapore, 2017.


Lapatha, Joyce et al. “Living with the Dead: A Qualitative Study on the Social Well-Being of Filipino Families Living in Cemeteries in Cebu City.” Asia Pacific Journal of Multidisciplinary Research 7, no. 1 (2019): 94–104.


Recommended Readings


W.E.B. DuBois’s Data Portraits:  Visualizing Black America.  Parts I and II.


Finney, Carolyn. Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2014.


Peterson, V. Spike. A Critical Rewriting of Global Political Economy:  Integrating Reproductive, Productive, and Virtual Economies.  2003.   


Blues Epistemology: Episode 1 AND 2:


Mapping Black Ecologies:


Woods, Clyde. Blues Epistemology:  Katrina’s world: Blues, Bourbon, and the Return to the Source.  New York: Verso, 2000.


Brockway, Lucile H. Science and Colonial Expansion: The Role of the British Royal Botanic Garden. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002.


Lowe, Lisa. The Intimacies of Four Continents.  Durham: Duke University Press, 2015.


Aguilar, Adrian, and Clemencia Santos. “Informal Settlement Needs and Environmental Conservation in Mexico City.” Land Use Policy 28, no. 4 (2011): 649–62.


Sutton, Keith, and Wael Fahmi. “Cairo’s ‘Cities of the Dead’: The Myths, Problems, and Future of a Unique Squatter Settlement.” The Arab World Geographer 5, 1 (2011): 1–21.

Week Seven.  12 Oct.  Valuation


Harris, Cheryl. “Whiteness as Property.” Harvard Law Review 106, 8 (1993): 1707–91.


Vergès, Françoise. “Racial Capitalocene: Is the Anthropocene Racial?” In Futures of Black Radicalism, ed. Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin. New York: Verso, 2017.


Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. "Let the Buyer Beware." Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2019.


Simone, AbdouMaliq. “Urban Dwellers and the Changing City - Professor AbdouMaliq Simone - Knowledge Works.” Video recorded lecture, University of South Australia, June 13, 2013.


Taylor, Doreceta.  Chapter 2, "Disproportionate Siting." Toxic Communities. Environment Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility. New York: NYU Press, 2014.


Halprin, Orit et al. "Test-Bed Urbanism." Public Culture 25, 2 (2013): 273-306.


Recommended Readings


Pattillo, Mary. Black on the Block: The Politics of Race And Class in the City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.


Rector, Josiah. Toxic Debt: An Environmental Justice History of Detroit. Chapel HIll, NC: UNC Press Books, 2022.


Satter, Beryl. Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America. First edition. New York: Picador, 2010.


Mathur, Anuradha and Dilip Da Cunha. Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary. Rupa & Co, 2009.


Sassen, Saskia. Expulsions:  Brutality and Complexity in a Global Economy.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.


Taylor, Dorceta. The Environment and​​ the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s, 2009. 


Weinstein, Liza. The Durable Slum: Dharavi and the Right to Stay Put in Globalizing Mumbai. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.


Schwab, Eva. Spatial Justice and Informal Settlements: Integral Urban Projects in the Comunas of Medellin. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 2018.



Week Eight.  19 Oct.  Repair


Treuer, David. “Return the National Parks to the Tribes.” The Atlantic, April 12, 2021.


Kelley, Robin D. G. “A Day of Reckoning”:  Dreams of Reparations, from Freedom Dreams. 2002.


Fairhead, James, and Melissa Leach. "Introduction." Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest-Savanna Mosaic. Cambridge University Press, 1996.


Glave, Dianne. "Women and Gardening." Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2010.


Anderson, Elsa and Emily Minor. “Vacant Lots: An Underexplored Resource for Ecological and Social Benefits.” Urban Forestry & Greening 21 (2017): 146–52.


Flores Hernandez, Luis. “Revisiting the Mexican Ejido.” In Communities, Land, and Social Innovation, 181–94. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2020.


Recommended Readings


Principles of Earth Democracy + Living Economies (Intro and Chapter 1), from Earth Democracy, 2015. Vandana Shiva.


“Letter to John Gerassi” - George Jackson, 1971


“Black Commune in Focus” - Harry Quintana & Charles Jones, 1969:

Kom’boa Ervin, Lorenzo. The Commune: Community Control of the Black Community, 1993.


Land and sea management among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples


FILM: Earth Wisdom for a World in Crisis


FILM SERIES: Standing on Sacred Ground


Gammell, Carrie, and Samuel Maddox. “Seeking Landed Security in (De)Industrialized Detroit and (Post)Colonial Mexican Ejidos.” Critical Planning 25, no. 0 (2022).


Making Livable Worlds:  Afro-Puerto Rican Women Building Environmental Justice. 2021. Hilda llorens. Read Introduction and Chapter 1.

Week Nine.  26 Oct.  Studio


Debriefing, wrapping up reading portion of the course.  Brainstorming projects.

Week Ten.  2 Nov.  Studio


Students discuss their ideas in small groups, generate mutual interests and intellectual affinities.

Week Eleven.  9 Nov.  Studio

Brief case study: Community Land Trusts (Mia White)

An Overview of Community Land Trusts, from Community Wealth.


Shepard, Cassim. “Land Power.” Places Journal, July 26, 2022.

Students work on projects for remainder of class time, consult with instructors and each other.

Week Twelve.  16 Nov.  Studio

Brief case study: The Three Cities Project (Cédric Gottfried and Joseph Heathcott)

Students can select blog posts to read from the Three Cities Project web site

Students work on projects for remainder of class time, consult with instructors and each other.

Week Thriteen.  23 Nov.  Thanksgiving, no class meeting

Week Fourteen.  30 Nov.  Studio


Brief case study: Narrative and Critical Cartographies (Victor Cano Ciborro)

“Cartographies of Gang Urbanism: La Haine.” PhD CULT: Ongoing Research in Advanced Architectural Design.

 "Escape from Auschwitz." LOBBY No.5, Published by: The Bartlett School of Architecture.

"Modern Fictions. Subaltern Realities. A Sensitive Cartography of Tensta’s Housing." Displacements: An X’SCAPE Journal.

Students work on projects for remainder of class time, consult with instructors and each other.


Week Fifteen.  7 Dec.  Studio

Students work on projects, consult with instructors and each other. 

First group of presentations.


Week Sixteen. 14 Dec.  Studio

Second group of presentations.

Debriefing and celebration!


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