Haunted Landscapes of Imperial Ruination: Queen’s Park Savannah as Case Study (2019)
Expanded Practice Seminar Project (essay, images, presentation) for Mellon Collaborative Studies in Architecture, Urbanism, and the Humanities, for advanced Graduates and Ph.Ds.
The Queen’s Park Savannah, located in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago - with its origins as a sugar plantation estate and now as a ‘semi-controlled’ public leisure space - symbolizes what Anna Tsing and others have coined ‘haunted landscapes of the Anthropocene’. In returning to the ‘ghosts’ or the historic past(s) and exploitations of the Savannah, this ‘park’ in its present day, is a regulated landscape arrangement between human and non-human entities. Quite literally, the Peschier cemetery at the heart of the Savannah, is the material home to these ghostly histories - the violence of settler colonialism and capitalist expansion. Amidst the cycle of plant growth to decay, fluctuations of human activity from football games to Carnival, this cemetery is the only constant and permanent presences on site. But where were the slaves of the Peschier family buried? Where were the tired and aged bodies of race horses buried? What flora and fauna were wiped away to cultivate the sugar plantations? Every landscape is haunted by past ways of life.1
1 Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing et al., “Haunted Landscapes of the Anthropocene.” In Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene (Minneapolis , MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2017)