LA Fall Lecture Series presents Abbilyn Harmon
Wednesday, 11/16 at 4:00 pm,
Cook/Douglas Lecture Hall
“We're Only Borrowing Time [on this earth] Anyway...": Reconceptualizing "Home" Through the Lens of Tent Cities."
Harmon presents a critical analysis of dominant American meaning(s) of ‘home’ through an eamination of ‘home’ in the context of tent cities. Drawing on empirical research conducted with residents of a tent city in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, as well as media coverage of tent cities across the U.S., she weaves the silenced perspectives of tent city residents into a broader discussion about land, private property, ‘home’ and legitimacy. Harmon employs an interdisciplinary approach to her study of tent cities, bringing together the fields of critical geography, urban planning, political theory and social history. In privileging the perspectives of tent city residents, Harmon presents a trenchant critique directed by those who are most negatively impacted by the effects of dominant perspectives of ‘home.’ Workshop Title: “Making “Home” in the Void: Materialities and Realities of Homelessness.”
Abbilyn Harmon is a PhD candidate in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. Harmon brings an activist paradigm to her work, fluidly merging her scholarship and teaching with her work in the community. During her time as a PhD student, she has worked for the East St. Louis Action Research Project, an interdisciplinary service learning and community engagement program, where she developed an Action Research seminar focused on improving conditions of homelessness in the community. From 2009-2010, she organized with a local tent community, using her research to assist the group in meeting their goals, while gaining a more complete understanding of the role of tent cities as a form of housing. Harmon’s scholarship approaches landscape as a construction that is both born of, and in turn shapes social relations. Particularly for her dissertation work, titled Determining Critical Factors in Community-Level Planning of Homeless Service Projects, Harmon attempts to understand community landscapes in terms of social accessibility—of the spaces themselves and of the planning processes that create them—and how this accessibility is impacted by normative beliefs about home and homelessness. Her work has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with a 2010-2012 Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant.