The Settler Colonial City Project is a research collective focused on the collaborative production of knowledge about cities on Turtle Island/Abya Yala/The Americas as spaces of ongoing settler colonialism, Indigenous survivance, and struggles for decolonization.
The concept of “settler colonialism” has recently emerged as a name for a distinctive form of colonialism that develops in places where settlers permanently reside and assert sovereignty. While the settler colonial dimensions of American cities have been centered in contemporary urban activism, these dimensions have been, at best, only tentatively explored in contemporary architectural and urban studies. Investigating the settler colonial history and contemporaneity of cities on Turtle Island/Abya Yala/The Americas, we aim to foreground Indigenous knowledge of and politics around land, life, and collective futures, as well as settler colonialism as an unmarked structure for the distribution of land, possibilities of life, and imagination of those futures.

2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Chicago
American Indian Center, Chicago

—Mapping Chicagou/Chicago
—Decolonizing the Chicago Cultural Center
—The Petro-Biennial Complex
At the Border of Decolonization
—The Settler Colonial Present

—SCCP at Homes on Fields, Harvard GSD
—SCCP at Urgent Pedagogies
—SCCP at Architecture Beyond Capitalism
—SCCP in PIN–UP 30: Legacy
—SCCP in the Architect’s Newspaper
—SCCP at PPEH on the Petro-Biennial Complex
—Unsettled Lands: Architecture, History, Pedagogy
—Conversations on Care at MIT
—SCCP at Chicago Public School Grade 7
—RCA: Co-liberation
SCCP at Art Gallery of Alberta
—SCCP at LSA Magazine
—Press on the Chicago Architecture Biennial


At the Border of Decolonization

Map by Spanish chronicler, historian, and writer Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas showing the meridian established under the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, 1622. Source: Library of Congress.

The colonial genealogy of the contemporary nation-state border frames any politics of their opening. Borders are opened when they are approached, conceptually and practically, as ambivalent, porous, fluid, and negotiated. At the same time, borders, whether closed or opened, are also historical artifacts of a colonial episteme. Neglecting the colonial genealogy of the border renders border work of any and all sort as a deferral of the work of decolonization.

The planet is bordered because it was bordered by colonialism. Étienne Balibar has suggested the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas as one of the key moments in the emergence of this globalizing regime of bordering.1 This treaty, between the Portuguese and Castilian Empires, divided the Atlantic at a meridian line 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands into possessions of each empire. In its initial formulation, the length of this meridian was not specified. As Spanish and Portuguese explorers increasingly encountered “new” parts of the “New World,” however, the meridian came to be extended across the planet, dividing it into hemispheres, each belonging to one of the treaty’s two imperial signatories.

Read Andrew Herscher and Ana María León’s piece on e-flux architecture here.