Discovering the last free place: Social identity and territorial conflict in the landscape of Slab City, California

Kathleen John–Alder, Andrew Op't Hof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study traces the transition of Slab City, California, from a military camp to a squatter settlement. It explores how the remnant slabs and roads of the former military base now serve as the spatial armature for a more fluid and individualistic definition of territory. To examine this historical developmental, it uses a combination of visual analysis, archival research, on-site interviews, and photographic documentation. Of interest, and what distinguishes this study from past scholarship on Slab City, is its emphasis upon the physical boundaries that demarcate the landscape. The emphasis, in turn, allows this study to illustrate the recursive relationship between landscape morphology and the social production of space, and thus how spatial form structures social relationships, and conversely how social relationships structure spatial form. Observations on landscape and boundary presented by cultural geographer J. B. Jackson in Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (1984) frame the discussion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-41
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Landscape Architecture
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 3 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development

Keywords

  • J. B. Jackson
  • Slab City
  • boundary
  • landscape
  • social identity
  • territory

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