Image: Black Power Naps Park and Project Witness by Ciara Elle Bryant as part of

Sofia Bastidas Vivar
Gallery Director & SMU Meadows Curatorial Fellow

Classes offered Spring 2021:

The City as Material for Cultural Production
ASAG 3370-001 (2002)

(online & in person)

WED 12:00PM - 2:50PM

Lead by Pollock Gallery Director Sofia Bastidas Vivar.

Looking at the visual culture of the city signals a move away from art history to “the ethics and politics, aesthetics and epistemology of seeing and being seen,” (Mitchell, 2002, p. 87) paralleling the move in cultural studies away from culture as elite practices to understanding culture as a way of life. It is this quality of visual and material culture to condense at once the every day, the monumental, and the spectacular that makes its such a powerful tool for analyzing the power relations that structure city living.

Within the framework of art and art-making, this course is intended to immerse students in our city as a space where culture is constantly being produced. The city allows for artistic practices to use the ongoing cultural configurations to further investigate the possibilities, capabilities, and inequities of the city as a machine for living.

We will look at the work of Henri Lefebvre, French Marxist philosopher, and sociologist, best known for pioneering the critique of everyday life, for introducing the concepts of the right to the city and the production of social space as well as to have site visits, look into archives and do interviews with community members.

Some readings:
  • W.E.B. Du Bois. The Class Struggle (W.E.B Du Bois Reader 1995) (21-23)
  • Davies, Jonathan S. Back to the Future: Marxism and Urban Politics. Critical Urban Studies: New Directions. State University of New York PRess. 2010.
  • Erdal, M. B. (2012). ‘A place to stay in Pakistan’: why migrants build houses in their country of origin. Population, Space and Place, 18(5), 629-641.
  • Weizman, Eyal. Herscher, Andrew. Architecture, violence, evidence. 2011.
  • Shaw, Charles. The Gur-i Amir Mausoleum and the Soviet Politics of Preservation.
  • Demchenko, Igor. Decentralized Past: Heritage Politics in Post-Stalin Central Asia.
  • Betts, Alexander. Refugee Economics: Rethinking Popular Assumptions. 2014.
  • Anderson, Michelle Wilde. Cities Inside Out: Race, Poverty, and Exclusion at the Urban Fringe.
  • Thompson, Jonathan. Contextualizing Radical Planning: The 1970s Chicano Takeover in Crystal City, Texas. 2008.
  • Diaz, David R. Barrios and Planning Ideology: The Failure of Suburbia and the Dialectics of New Urbanism. Latino Urbanism: The Politics of Planning, Policy and Redevelopment. 2012.
  • Blumenberg, Evelyn. Planning for Demographic Diversity: The Case of Immigrants and Public Transit.
  • DeFillipis, James. The Myth of Social Capital in Community Development. 2001.
  • Sassen, Saskia. Whose City Is it? Globalization and the Formation of New Claims. 1996
  • Campbell, Alexia Fernandez. All the relief money in the world won’t rebuild Houston, Undocumented workers will. 2017.
  • Zimmerman, Katrina. Urban Planning Has a Sexist Problem. Next City. 2017.
  • Beebeejaun, Yasminah. Gender, urban space, and the right to everyday life. Journal of Urban Affairs. 2015.
  • McNamara, Patricia. Feminist Ethnography: Storytelling that Makes A Difference. 2009.
  • Lorde, Audre. The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House. 1979
  • Forsyth, Ann. Sexuality and Space: Nonconformist Populations and Planning Practice
  • Carr, Sarah. Assessing Current and Future Housing and Support Options for Older LGB People
  • Gleeson, Brendan. Disability and the Capitalist City. Geographies of Disability. 1999.
  • Mannell, Laura, et. al. Community-Based and Comprehensive: Reflections on Planning and Action in First Nations. Reclaiming Indigenous Planning. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013.