Measured, marked, modeled: becoming with the urban landscape
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Landscape has become a central organizing concept for the design of urban space through design practices seeking to ‘recover’ the flow and flexibility of ecological processes. Yet, urban landscapes almost everywhere, and in every way, are divided and categorized as bounded sites through cartographic practices, property delineations, and environmental management, making site central to imaging and experiencing landscape. I pose that site is always part of engaging landscape and that by examining the unruliness of site we may reimagine the power relations within landscape itself. I use archival and discourse analysis to examine three moments of transition in how site is conceptualized in twentieth century North America. By situating the production of site and landscape within particular socioecological historical contexts, I show how normative site readings are predicated on and lead to the regulation of life through practices and discourses that foster or disallow lively relations. The three case studies illustrate how the regulation of life takes place through racial formation (chapter three), the fragmentation of ecological systems (chapter four), and the imagining of neoliberal futures (chapter five). I argue that the regulation of life as reflective of uneven power relations is revealed through site formation, and is the result a failure within landscape practice to recognize how site knowledge is always situated and power-laden. In response, I propose site knowledge as becoming-with, which I develop through practices of care. Care practices bring attention to intertwined historical formations, socioecological responsibility, and critical self-reflectivity to draw out the plurality that lives within categories of site. By thinking and acting through care, landscape practice has the potential to become a practice of life, with the creative and intellectual capacity to engage land and its relations.
- Built environment