Spatial Discourses on Race, Gender, and Sexuality

This seminar studies spatial discourses on race, gender, and sexuality as they relate to the built environment and spatial functions of power.  Such discourses are often interdisciplinary and help us understand the historical and contemporary roles architecture and urban design play in social justice and human rights conflicts.  Categories, the categories of race, gender, and sexuality, are transit points of political, economic, and social power. They delineate a margin, a threat, an irregular, a threat, etc. To understand power-relations as spatial functions is to see how they identify, partition, modify, and transform social groups and populations through forms of segregation, exclusion, or confinement.  At the same time, it is to see a spatial production as a link between certain fields of knowledge which introduce new discursive spaces that have important architectural and urban consequences.  The joining of psychiatric testimony and juridical procedure enabled a legal discourse to link biography, economy, family, etc. to criminality and race which has supported more than a century of discriminatory incarceration. The introduction of biology into economic theory created normative gendered works spaces.  The link between medicine and education policy helped establish the terms of normal and abnormal sexualities.  Each of these situations has spatial features which will be in our interest to study with respect to problems of social justice.