ARC 221

ARC 221– Race & Place

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Course Details

Course No.: 24432

Department: Architecture

Semester: 2017 Fall

Location: TBD – Greiner 120B

Meeting Day(s): Monday & Wednesday

Meeting Time: 9:30AM - 10:50AM

Faculty: Davis

Faculty: Davis

COURSE DESCRIPTION: How does the social construction of difference affect our experiences of the built environment? We will study this question by examining the historical intersections that exist between ‘race’ and ‘place’ around the world. Despite official attempts to move past biological racisms, race and place continue to map onto each other in the United States and abroad. Race continues to structure our living arrangements in the form of racial and ethnically segregated enclaves, gated communities, and dilapidated housing for undocumented immigrants. Because voting districts continue to be stratified along racial and class lines, it is a challenge to ensure tax contributions are equitably redistributed to support public amenities such as schools, roads, and other public infrastructure. And while biologists have rejected the scientific validity of racial categories since the 1940s, medical doctors continue to use them to track the effects of diseases such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes on specific populations.


Why do racial categories persist in our social imaginaries? What impact do these categories have on the shaping of our built environment? And how can we reconceptualize and/or visualize the physical effects of these categories on our use of public and private space?


Over the course of the semester we will analyze historical and contemporary definitions of ‘race’ and ‘place’ produced by scholars in geography, architecture, and urban studies. These definitions will help us identify and critique the racial landscapes that have emerged around the world – from Selma, Alabama to Ahmedabad, India – and investigate the ways vernacular architectural forms, material culture, and expressive culture continues to reflect historical ideas of racial difference. In addition, class assignments will challenge students to find new ways of mapping the world they live in so that their perspectives reflect multiple levels of information, including the intersections that exist between racial, class, and gender categories typically excluded from official maps. Film, music, television, and radio programs will be used whenever possible to deepen our awareness of the contemporary languages used to define race and place.