Hidden Figures: The City, Architecture and the Construction of Race and Gender

What hidden figures do our  buildings and urban environment conceal?  

There exists systematic erasure of the contributions of Women of Color – Queer, Black and Indigenous -in the design field. This course is experimental by nature; it attempts to dismantle White-Supremacy ideology and  the Western canon by not focusing on European, White and European American figures.  The seminar explores critical race and gender theory to provide a framework for understanding society's role and cultural influences to the commissioning of buildings and the planning of cities. It will engage questions of authorship and production as it relates to the construction of our built environment.  It will examine the hidden figures, often excluded from the canon of knowledge.  These significant figures have made meaningful contributions to the built environment in colonial and post-colonial contexts.

Through weekly readings and case studies of queer and mostly non-white architects and planners, the seminar will consider how non-white identities are often erased or excluded, and how those actions have become a contributing factors to the development of urban form.  The seminar will provide a knowledge base for students to become more familiar with past and contemporary contributions from Queer, Black, Indigenous and Women of Color.  The seminar is structured around two scale- that of the building  and the city.   To explore the intersection of design as it relates to the adverse effects of sexism, racism, colonization, and globalization, the seminar will cover four themes:

– The City, Architecture and the Construction of Race and Gender
– Race and Gender in the Colonial Context
– Race and Gender in the Postcolonial Context
– Sexuality and Queering of Spaces and Neighborhoods

By exploring these four themes throughout the semester, we will examine how culture, cities and history can shape a person's right to progress. 

Course structure:

Fixed synchronous  – 1 hour: Lecture (30 minutes), 5 minutes break, Student presentation (25 minutes)
Flexible synchronous – 1 hour: Group discussion on assigned readings (55 minutes, 5 minutes break) 
Flexible synchronous/Asynchronous – 1 hour: Attendance will not be required.  We will use this hour to archive group work through online discussion on Canvas (15 minutes) and break out group work online (40 minutes, 5 minutes break)

Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 01/19-01/21. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website. If you need assistance, please contact Estefanía Ibáñez