Just Landscape? Diversity, Ethnicity, Representation

Are urban green spaces good for everyone? Can they be universally designed? How does cultural diversity and ethnicity of local communities influence the design requirements? How can you ensure representation of such communities in design? These are questions that will be posed during an upcoming conference on landscape design.

Derbyshire St Pocket Park, Tower Hamlets, London: a space designed for people and nature. Image by Stuart Connop

Despite high hopes for open spaces as “the foundation for public interaction and social integration” (Urban Task Force, 2005) our urban parks, squares, country parks and rural landscapes are not unproblematically and equally open to all. In the UK, there is significantly less quality greenspace in neighbourhoods with a high proportion of residents from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (CABE 2010), and even in parks and other nature spaces accessible to diverse communities, people from non-white backgrounds are frequently under-represented as users (Natural England 2016). Similar findings in the United States have prompted researchers there to question whether predominantly white landscape professions are creating ethno-racially inscribed landscapes, and so influencing who feels welcome (Byrne & Wolch, 2009).

In order to explore these issues in greater detail, a one day interdisciplinary conference is being held at the University of East London (Stratford Campus) as part of Black History Month. The conference is being supported by the Landscape Institute Diversity & Inclusion Group.

Eco-play space co-creation with a local school. Image by Sam Jelliman

The conference is being held on Saturday 26th October 2019. Keynote speaker will be Walter Hood (Professor of Landscape Architecture UC Berkley & Principal, Hood Design Studio, Oakland CA), Ingrid Pollard (PhD, Photographer), and Vron Ware (Professor of Sociology & Gender Studies, Kingston University). These keynotes will be asking: Who and what is represented in the landscape? Does power to shape the landscape promote preferred narratives and practices, limiting cultural access? Why are the professions that produce our urban and rural landscapes not more ethnically diverse?

This one day conference will bring together leading international practitioners and researchers from the arts, from landscape architecture, and other academic disciplines, to explore issues of diversity, ethnicity and representation, to ask, is this just landscape?

There is currently a call for papers out for the event. The call invites papers investigating issues of culture, diversity, ethnicity and representation in the landscape from academics and practitioners, from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to:

  • landscape architecture / management
  • photography
  • fine art
  • social science
  • geography
  • urban studies
  • leisure studies
  • anthropology
  • history
  • cultural studies

To find out more and get tickets to be part of this exciting event see: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/just-landscape-diversity-ethnicity-representation-tickets-64723343262

For further details to ask a question contact conference organiser: Dr Bridget Snaith CMLI, b.snaith@uel.ac.uk

Tickets: Full Day Tickets £ 95, £ 70 Student £25

By Bridget Snaith

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s