Towards a People’s History of Landscape

On June 28, 2022, Amber delivered a lecture entitled “Landscapes of Resistance” for Towards a People’s History of Landscape, Part 1: Black & Indigenous Histories of the Nation’s Capital, an NEH Summer Institute for Higher Education Faculty. The lecture focused on public schools for Black students as sites of resistance in the national capital.

Convened at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, this Institute interrogated histories of the nation’s founding by centering the cultural landscape of its capital, the District of Columbia. A People’s History of Landscape brought distinct bodies of knowledge together with a critical place studies approach that positions place at the center of the narrative.

Within this context, place is not only a geographical site but a critical agent in shaping human behavior and social/ environmental relationships as well as cultures broadly. In this Institute’s approach land was considered in terms of the physical components that comprise the living systems and natural process in place as well as the cultural narratives and meaning of place. Institute participants will explore the lived experience in place of Black and Indigenous peoples and communities who imagined, constructed, used, and memorialized places.

A People’s History of Landscape contributed to efforts in the academy to address complex histories of land, labor, and place-making. The Institute brought scholars from across the nation together to explore alternative approaches to scholarship and teaching landscape and place-oriented social and cultural histories, centering Black and Indigenous historical narratives in the founding of the United States and the District of Columbia.