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Posts Tagged ‘Dumbarton Oaks’

REVIEWED BY KOFI BOONE, ASLA

FROM THE OCTOBER 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

With more than 15 million views, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie’s groundbreaking TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” is likely the most viewed treatise on the consequences of making one story the story of the African continent. With surgical precision, Adichie reveals the lasting consequences of perpetuating Africa and Africans as only victims suffering from famine and war, or only the exotic backdrop for experiencing “charismatic nature.” But in the end, her most devastating criticism of the single story is embodied in her quote of the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti, “If you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with ‘secondly.’” Illustrating her point, Adichie asks facetiously what we would think if the story began with a “failed” African state instead of with European colonialism.

The issue of starting with “secondly” is present in cultural landscape study of the continent of Africa. The spirit of Adichie’s and Barghouti’s arguments resonates in the pages of Cultural Landscape Heritage in Sub-Saharan Africa, edited by John Beardsley. The volume collects essays delivered at a symposium held at Dumbarton Oaks in 2013 and reflects an important first step in laying the foundation for future exploration. Through a wide array of disciplinary lenses, geographic locations, and time periods, Beardsley’s work eschews deriving a single conclusion about what is “African” and instead reveals the wealth of issues and opportunities with engaging the many cultures of a continent. The avoidance of narrowing and bridging the divergent voices contained within the book is challenging and perhaps belies the fact that this is one of the first mainstream publications on this topic. Given the lack of similar texts, there could be a tendency to attempt to be singular and definitive. However, borrowing from one of the book’s many themes, the result is a contribution to the “continuity” of a conversation about the lives and practices that have shaped meaningful place in Africa, a continent still invisible to the profession of landscape architecture. (more…)

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BY BRADFORD MCKEE

FROM THE JUNE 2018 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

I’m not sure how many magazines with advisory boards actually put them to work, but at LAM, we meet with ours monthly by phone and find their advice invaluable. The LAM Editorial Advisory Committee (you can see its members on our masthead, page 6) is drawn from a cross section of ASLA’s membership. Each month, a different member leads the call, along with a backup, and those two people together set the agenda and lead the conversation. The topic is entirely of their choosing. Those of us on the magazine staff occasionally chime in, but mainly we listen.

A recent call was led by two early-career professionals who focused the conversation on the ways landscape history is taught in landscape architecture schools. In particular, they wanted to address the overwhelming bend in the history curriculum toward European design traditions and values. “We don’t see a lot of landscape architecture not designed by white men,” one said. “What do we accept as ‘high design,’ and how can we challenge how these [notions] are rooted in Eurocentric design principles?”

The question expands easily beyond high design to human spatial behavior, preference, and need. In any case, it’s an especially pertinent subject given the broad recognition within landscape architecture that the profession is overdue for diversification if it is to address the issues confronting the modern world. “In the past, landscape architecture history was taught along European garden types and sprinkled in other influences such as Chinese and Japanese gardens,” noted one of several committee members who is a university educator. “Now that it’s a global profession, people are talking about other influences. A lot of people elsewhere are trying to make sense of (more…)

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Credit: Andy Stephenson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Credit: Andy Stephenson [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Find the LAM staff out and about in May and June:

May 6–7

Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape Studies Symposium, Washington, D.C.

June 1–4

2016 Vernacular Architecture Forum, Durham, North Carolina

June 10–11

2016 Summit on Landscape Architecture and the Future, Philadelphia

June 13–19

Dredgefest California, Berkeley, California

June 21–23

A Century of Design in the Parks, Santa Fe, New Mexico

You can also find Landscape Architecture Magazine this spring at the following shows:

May 19–21

AIA Convention 2016, Philadelphia

And, as always, at more than 200 Barnes & Noble stores nationwide.

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Find the LAM staff out and about in May:

May 3–7

Lightfair International, New York City

May 8–9

River Cities: Historical and Contemporary, Washington, D.C.

May 14–16

AIA National Convention, Atlanta

May 16–17

International Landscape Architecture Symposium, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing

You can also find Landscape Architecture Magazine this spring at the following shows:

May 3–7

Lightfair International, New York City

May 13–15

HD EXPO, Las Vegas

May 14–16

AIA National Convention, Atlanta

And as always, at more than 400 Barnes & Noble stores.

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