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/North America (and similar examples beyond), 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
The Night Gallery, Chicago

—Mapping Chicagou/Chicago
—Decolonizing the Chicago Cultural Center
—The Petro-Biennial Complex
Palace of the People
At the Border of Decolonization



Decolonizing Mahogany

SCCP 2019
At Preston Bradley Hall Foyer, Chicago Cultural Center

Many of the sumptuous materials from which today's Chicago Cultural Center was built were only made available by the colonial dispossession of Indigenous people and extraction of resources from Indigenous land.
        Most of the stately doors in the building, for example, were constructed in part or whole from mahogany wood. British companies began to extract mahogany from colonized lands in the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America in the 1820s. By the late 19th century, when the Chicago Public Library/G.A.R. Memorial Hall was constructed, logging had depleted mahogany stocks and deforested landscapes in the Americas, leading to the intensification of mahogany extraction in other sites of British colonialism, in particular West Africa and East India. The mahogany used in these doors was taken from East India.

        Logging in all of these colonial sites devastated the plant, animal, and human systems that harvested wood was enmeshed within. Along with the clearing of forests by logging, forest ecosystems were damaged and destroyed by road building, the harvesting of animals for food for loggers, the dispersal of Indigenous communities that had sustained forests, and many other interventions.
        In short, the mahogany that these doors were built from came from a space of extractive violence intimately connected to the doors’ indisputable beauty.