Ecologies of Belonging

ANTH 3595/5595 URBS 3595

Rachel Antoinette Cypher

Wednesdays 1:45-4:45 PM

Ecologies of Belonging

Every landscape enacts belonging and exclusion. A straight line of Locust trees, the concrete channeling of Delaware river tributaries, a Great Lawn of bermudagrass, all are ecologies that include some and exclude others, both human and nonhuman. This class will seek to trouble, expose, and explore the histories and the makings of what we will call “commonsense ecologies” – the places and landscapes in which we lead our daily lives unquestioningly. Our general aim will be to discover and create theoretical, empirical, and conceptual tools for understanding the uneven conditions of livability within the Anthropocene and the Anthropos-Not-Seen. The course will move through ecological imperialism and modernization into industrial capitalism, and finally explore ruin and resurgence. In our readings we will tack back and forth between contemporary and historical spatial analyses of landscapes and the more-than-human, combining weekly field observations with topical readings to interrogate commonsense ecologies all around us, training a critical, descriptive, and collaborative eye on industrial forms, absences, disease ecologies, Indigenous and Black histories and presences, settler colonialism, resurgence, and patchiness. Keeping a “Field” notebook will be an essential part of the class, and integral to the ways in which we will attempt to see the way theories bubble up from the empirical. As our final project, we will create a digital and publicly available “Living Landscape Archive” documenting commonsense ecologies.

Ecologies of Being poster, text above

Spring 2023