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cr/theory, discourse, essay, history, ideology, urban, utopia

Myth, Ideology and Hegemony: The Political Syntax of American Environmental Design Tradition

agrarian1This essay arouse out of a new intellectual stream that specifically aims at understanding the role of politics in the perception of nature in American environmental design tradition. No doubt that a range of tendencies, movements, and styles in environmental design reflect certain perceptions and ideologies about the relationship of society to the natural world. They also represent the changing perceptions of natural and cultural landscapes in design practice over time and place. In this changing perception of landscape, it is the objective of this essay to explore the notion of resistance as the principal issue to understand the political power of environmental design for social change.

Environmental design is a domain of politics because it produces a practice as a system of social and cultural power that emphasizes the transformation of both natural and cultural landscape at once. Its apprehension thus requires an ideological analysis; yet, it should be supplemented by an understanding of social relations, hierarchies, and power relations within society, institutions, grass- roots organizations, and social groups involved in the general process of production of cultural patterns. The analysis, in other words, has to expose the ways in which the social production of space is reproduced, performed, perceived, and made available to the public in a cultural setting.

“…at every process of history there is a material outcome…a historically created relationship to nature and of individuals towards each other, a sum total production of forces that is transmitted to each generation by its predecessor and on the one hand is modified by the new generation but on the other itself prescribes its own living conditions and imposes upon it a definitive development, a special character of its own-so that, in other words, circumstances make men just as men make circumstances..”

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