[Image: Woodbury University, San Diego School of Architecture. Photograph by Hewitt Garrison]
So, part of the reason it’s been so quiet on Subtopes as of recent is due to some big news I’m excited to share here. As it turns out, I’m heading down to San Diego to teach for the Fall semester at Woodbury University’s School of Architecture at their new campus in Barrio Logan down by the shipyards where the Navy constructs its sea arsenal.
As you can imagine I’m pretty fired up about this, especially since the seminar I’ll be leading will largely draw upon Subtopia for framework. The title of the course is ‘Military Urbanism’ Vs. ‘Spatial Justice.’ Yet, as good as that sounds I’m finding it a huge challenge to distill and organize Subtopia into an actual seminar. It’s actually a very good exercise; think of your blog as a seminar, how would that make you rethink it? Regardless, after a few months of some serious structuring I think I have a good handle on how to narrate the class and am very much looking forward to it, not to mention how honored I am to have been invited.
Hopefully the students will get out and find some crazy critical aspects to their city they’ve never noticed before, or just simply never stopped to really pay attention – which is the clearest goal; to help them interrogate the spaces around them. Yes, interrogate. To turn them into “spatial interrogators”, Subtopes-style.
The class is going to be a survey of “military urbanism” starting with some historical background on the origins of the city as a political entity and the conceptual development of the nation-state, before moving through “military urbanism” as it is practiced in various parts of the world (e.g. Occupied Territories and the “War on Terror”), then onwards to the sheer omniscience of this stuff today. Borrowing from Krzysztof Wodiczko’s term “interrogative design” I hope to further develop our lenses for observing everyday space and the dimensions of our daily environments as they are inseparably linked with politics, state power, militarism, security, (in)justice, etc. The general idea here is that military urbanism in the end is not just some condition far off on the other side of the world in the Middle East, or on the battlefields of Afghanistan – but, rather is completely constitutive of our normal existence, of capitalism and urbanity itself, of the constructs of globalization and democratic space today. Military urbanism at the contemporary condition, absolutely pervasive, etc. You read the quasi-About page, you know the routine.
San Diego is actually a perfect city for this since it has such an intense relationship with the military industrial-complex that I hope to really get out and measure with the students. The seminar will conclude thinking about what some allies of ours (whom you should know by now) have termed as “spatial justice” and how spatial practioners can respond to the ubiquitous nature of military urbanism.
That is all really a short take on the syllabus (which I may post in full once the class gets rolling), but should give you an idea. Anyway, super excited. I hope to relay all of this on Subtopia in various dispatches over the next few months, so – even though it’s been a bit quiet in these parts recently, and probably will be for a short foreseeable future, there is the unfolding of all of this look forward to. Subtopia in a strange and cool sort of practice.
As if that’s not enough, I will also be co-teaching an urban design studio with my friend Rene Peralta (whom you’ve heard me before refer to as “the architectural mayor of Tijuana”), on post-industrial infrastructure as it can be developed and explored within Barrio Logan, a historic Latin American community that has fought over the decades to preserve a heritage there amidst redevelopment, post-industrial abandon, all in the shadow of the Navy.
Sorry to be so low key, and to rush off again for now – but just had to finally let everyone know. If anyone has any suggestions for things/places/sites-to-see/activities-to-do/people-to-meet, please let me know. And any SD/TJ readers out there interested in meeting up at some point, I’d also love to hear from you.