Call for Proposals

From Land Grab to Landback: Architecture and Positions on Land

Transdisciplinary and Multimedia Symposium

September 2023

Scholars, designers, artists, authors, planners and activists are invited to submit proposals to participate in “From Land Grab to Landback: Architecture and Positions on Land.” A multimedia and transdisciplinary symposium spanning three continents, “From Land Grab to Landback” explores the role of architecture and spatial practices in the politics of land and water rights, occupation, displacement, sovereignty, property, dispossession, reparations, ecological spoliation, capital, wealth accumulation and distribution, production, and ongoing struggles against settler colonialism.

The symposium seeks to bring together diverse perspectives on how the built and destroyed environment shape and are shaped by power relations, struggles for land rights, stewardship and extraction, and alternative visions of land use and custodianship.

“From Land Grab to Landback” is organized by the Iowa State University Department of Architecture with support from the ISU Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities, the School of Architecture of the Universidad de Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras, Graduate School of Architecture at Johannesburg and Loudreaders with support from the Mellon Foundation and re:arc Institute. The symposium is part of a series of events, exhibitions roundtables and publications to be celebrated in Ames (USA), Rio Piedras (Puerto Rico) and Johannesburg (South Africa).

Abstract submission

We welcome abstracts of 300-500 words that address one or more of the following themes:

  • Histories and geographies of land grab and dispossession
  • The spatial dimensions of land struggles and resistance
  • Architecture and design as instruments of colonization and resistance
  • Reimagining land use
  • Afroindigenous and Indigenous perspectives on land, space and architecture
  • Trans-feminist models of resistance and land practices
  • Global and local struggles for landback and reparations
  • Intersectional approaches to land justice and environmental racism

Interdisciplinary perspectives that draw on fields such as architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture, geography, history, anthropology, environmental studies and Indigenous studies are welcome.

Please submit your abstract via email by Tuesday, June 20, to the symposium organizers:

Please use the subject line “Land Symposium Application” and include your name, affiliation and contact information with the abstract in a PDF file (2MB max).

About the symposium

“From Land Grab to Landback” is a transdisciplinary symposium and multimedia platform that investigates and offers critical perspectives that tie architecture across different scales to urgent questions about land, territory, property, sovereignty, ecology and life. In response to planetary-scale calls for social and ecological justice, architecture is called to confront its legacy as the material manifestation of systems of power, occupation, territorialization, extraction, capture, identity, development and modernity.

Drawing from the work, research and practices of leading international designers, planners, artists, political-scientists, anthropologists, scholars, journalists, philosophers and activists, the symposium provides an intersectional approach to questions about land and the many struggles that ensue during an era of technological escalation and ecological urgency.

Through a series of talks, film screenings, roundtable discussions and workshops, “From Land Grab to Landback: Architecture and Positions on Land” engages with many temporalities while looking at the past and present of critical questions on land and architecture. The symposium offers a platform for the presentation and dissemination of critical imaginaries operating in the immediate and distant future.