Edgy Urban Environmental History: The Ideological Built Environment

AHA Session 89
Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Empire Ballroom (Omni Shoreham, Lower Level)
Zachary Nowak, Harvard University
The Audience

Session Abstract

The various papers will examine change over time in urban space (broadly-conceived) and the many actors involved in making meaning in those places. The participants are interested in the complex ways that corporations, the state, and individuals construct and reconstruct the liminal spaces between urban and non-urban environments and access different scales of interaction between places and people. Each paper will examine constructed space both materially as a built world and ideologically through communal codification. Zachary Nowak will present a chapter from his dissertation on the construction of St. Louis railway stations on the site of a drained semi-urban mill pond, and the station as a “railway panopticon,” where municipal authorities materialized governance. Kerry Rohrmeier will present her “ephemeral urban history” of a recurringly temporary city, the Burning Man festival grounds in the northern Nevada desert. Rohrmeier analyzes how historical conflicts over growth and elitism at the constantly re-emerging and always new city are reflected in the manifested landscape. Scott Hinton makes a photographic examination of what he calls “ranchurbia,” documenting both the landscape of today but also the lingering traces of the past. Stephen Hausmann argues in his dissertation chapter that urban policies in Rapid City, South Dakota, attempted to keep Indians living in the city first literally at the edge of Rapid Creek, directly in the stream’s floodplain, and later at the edges of the municipal borders. Both circumstances had disastrous consequences and were met with Native resistance.
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