Theses Master's

Race Language and the Dilemma of Reproduction in New York City's Borough Based Jail Proposal

Thompson, Kyliel

If the last century has unveiled anything for architects, urban planners, and urban designers, it is that there is an entanglement between race, prisons, and public space. Race, Language, and the Dilemma of Reproduction in New York City's Borough-Based Jail Proposal is a thesis that attempts to separate, in one instance, the complications that race poses for public space, as well as the automatic suturing of planning practices to the problem of prisons. In another instance, it endeavors to bring these elements together, demonstrating that the relationships are reconcilable, and turns to the violence of language to articulate the anti-black racism that lies at the center.

This thesis positions, as a case study, New York City's recently proposed borough-based jail plan as a premier example of how efforts to "engage community" cannot be identified as attempts to reason with community, but are rather demonstrations of power over community. Drawing form the work of critical theory, political economy, and psychoanalysis, this project seeks to uncover within the borough-based project a terrorizing mix of harmful planning practices, language deferral/delay, carceral eco-design, and demonstrations of power over the body. Overall, I contend that through a critical assessment of language, urban design, power, and an assessment of racial capitalism and the body, we become aware of how "new" uses of public space mirror the antiquated mishaps of the planning practice, and how language takes the form of a radicalizing vehicle.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Bou Akar, Hiba
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 19, 2023