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Canadian scholar receives Graham Foundation grant to study racialized landscapes

Sara Jacobs, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of British Columbia, has received a Graham Foundation grant for her project Landscapes of Racial Formation: Warren Manning in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama.

Mappings of environmental and cultural values of the United States as drawn by Warren Manning in “A National Plan,” 1919. Courtesy Warren Manning Papers, Iowa State University Special Collections, Ames, Iowa, From the 2021 individual grant to Sara Jacobs for Landscapes of Racial Formation: Warren Manning in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama

Sara Jacobs, an assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of British Columbia, has received a Graham Foundation grant for her project Landscapes of Racial Formation: Warren Manning in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama.

Landscapes of Racial Formation examines how landscape architectural practice was folded into the racial formation of the United States in the early twentieth century, according to the Graham Foundation website. Jacobs’ archival and site-based research examines the relationship between landscape architect Warren Manning’s white supremacist environmental atlas, “A National Plan” (1919), and city plans Manning implemented for Birmingham and Atlanta, in 1919 and 1922, respectively.

A significant designer who completed over 100 built projects, Manning was a founding member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and a long-time employee of Fredrick Law Olmsted. The research looks at how Manning’s representation of landscape intersected with Progressive era anxieties to legitimize the design of racialized urban landscapes in Birmingham and Atlanta. Examining how Manning naturalized eugenic-based racial segregation in these cities reveals how white supremacist logics are enacted through the making of landscape, a legacy that landscape history has yet to fully address.

Birmingham, Alabama with shaded topographical relief, 1919. Landscape plan by Office of Warren Manning, Courtesy Warren Manning Papers Iowa State, University Special Collections, Ames, Iowa. From the 2021 individual grant to Sara Jacobs for Landscapes of Racial Formation: Warren Manning in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama

Sara Jacobs holds a master’s in landscape architecture from Harvard University and doctorate in the built environment from the University of Washington. is assistant professor of landscape architecture at the University of British Columbia. Jacobs writes and draws about how socioecological relations become legible through landscape to work toward just land futures. Her research considers how practices of care, biopolitics, and race and racialization within historic spatial processes shape the politics of landscape practice in relation to social and ecological life.

Jacobs’s design work has been recognized internationally, including from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and her research has been supported by the Clarence Stein Institute for Urban Landscapes, Garden Club of America, and Center for Land Use Interpretation. Her writings appear in the Journal of Landscape ArchitectureLandscape Architecture Frontiers, and the SITE Magazine. Jacobs was previously the Thaler Visiting Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture at the University of Virginia.

Jacobs is one of 71 grant recipients selected from nearly 700 applicants to the current cycle of the Graham Foundation Grants to Individuals.

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