A Trans Ecology for Harlem: Speculative Planning and the Poetics of Environmental Design

- | Treats, tea, and an interdisciplinary discussion in the Urban Studies office, 414 McNeil Building
Instant Slum Clearance

Davy Knittle,  Ph.D. Candidate Department of English

Akira Drake Rodriguez, Lecturer Department of City and Regional Planning


This paper considers Black feminist poet and activist June Jordan’s 1971 novel His Own Where and “Skyrise for Harlem,” her 1964 collaboration with speculative architect R. Buckminster Fuller, as they illustrate the entanglement of racial, gender, and environmental justice in the redevelopment of 1960s Harlem. In the paper, I use a reading of “Skyrise” and His Own Where to model an anti-racist trans environmentalism that builds on Jordan’s Black feminist methods and borrows from trans of color critique, queer ecology, and the environmental humanities. I map how queer and trans engagements with urban redevelopment can be useful for a wide range of urbanists working to center debates about urban futures around questions of justice and representation.