I never promised you a rose garden.… When landscape architecture becomes a laboratory for the Anthropocene

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “I never promised you a rose garden.… When landscape architecture becomes a laboratory for the Anthropocene,” Henriette Steiner. Abstract:

In the summer of 2017, wildflower seeds were spread on a large, empty open space close to a motorway flyover just outside Copenhagen, Denmark. This was an effort to use non-mechanical methods to prepare the soil for an ‘urban forest’ to be established on the site, since the flowers’ roots would penetrate the ground and enable the planned new trees to settle. As a result, the site was transformed into a gorgeous meadow, and all summer long Copenhageners were invited to come and pick the flowers. In this article, I critically examine different aspects of this project – including the role of design, the perception of nature–culture relationships, climate change, and flower-picking as an event – in relation to my personal experience of visiting this meadow both on-site and on social media. The different temporalities that clash at the site give rise to conflicting interpretations, and I suggest that the meadow can be seen as a living plant archive of the Anthropocene, both physically and digitally. In doing so, I introduce and critique key conceptual pairs, including archive/death and bloom/decay, suggested by Lee Edelman’s queer cross-reading of Jacques Derrida’s ‘Archive Fever’ and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I thereby contrast flower motifs pertaining to the cycles of blooming, decay, and nature’s (failed) eternal return in the meadow with the expansive futurity of the digitally mediated archive.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.