Evaluations of Human Habitats and Habits in the 21th Century

The Study Space project is a series of intensive workshops, held at diverse locations around the world, the goal of which is to acquire a deeper understanding of the legal, policy and human challenges posed by the global growth of megacities. Study Space intends, at various times and in different places, to provide a vehicle for progressive scholars and graduate students from varied disciplines and backgrounds to study, learn and seek to understand experientially this trend in all of its implications – for identity and self-determination, for participatory democracy, for equality and social justice, for human health, for the environment, for livable cities and manageable land use, and so on.

The Study Space model has evolved beyond its original focus on megacities and now encompasses a variety of geographies that connect to LatCrit values and themes that would enrich LatCrit community members to explore more deeply. This project aims to synthesize the
formal study and experiential understanding of material realities in these locales and their systemic correlation to traditional identity-based ideologies deployed through race, gender, sexuality, and other troubled categories. Since 2007, the Study Space workshops have centered and visited Panama City, Panama (2007); Bogotá, Colombia (2008); Denver, Colorado, (2008); Medellín, Colombia (2009); Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2010); Havana, Cuba (2013); and a variety of rural and urban locations in Guatemala (2015), with plans in additional venues to include Quito, Ecuador.

The Format: Each Study Space lasts approximately one to two weeks, including travel. It will take participants to a site chosen by the organizer of that Study Space. The organizer will, in turn, be responsible for the design and thematic focus of the Study Space. Recommended readings related to the Study Space will be identified for participants in advance. The following format/agenda, although not always followed, is suggested: For at least five days of each week, Study Space participants will be required to attend a morning field visit of approximately three hours in duration related to the theme of that Study Space. Every evening, participants will be required to attend a group dinner at which each member will be asked to share his/her reflection on the most interesting, most puzzling or most provocative thing s/he heard on that morning’s field visit. Afternoons will be free, as will evenings after the group dinner. The purpose of this format is to provide both structured learning experiences as well as reflective, unstructured opportunities for study, observation and conversation. The hope is that each Study Space schedule will be designed so that each day’s field visit and roundtable discussion build upon one another day-by-day. Participants who do not read all advance materials, and attend all field visits and dinners will not be asked to participate in future Study Space events.

Participants: To insure a high quality, in-depth group exchange, participation in each Study Space will be limited to a small group (say 10 people), including the organizer. Application will be by simple letter of interest outlining the reason for the applicant’s interest in the given Study Space. Selection will be conducted by the organizer and a representative from the LatCrit Board.

Publication: The organizer will seek to combine participant reflections and scholarly emphasis into a group project suitable for publication, such as a book, symposium or mini-symposium, as detailed in the list below of past Study Space publications. LatCrit will support the effort to secure publication, whether electronically, in print, or both.

Study Space Publications, 2007–2022

  1. Entering the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities of Panama’s Explosive Ur- ban Growth, Panama City, Panama, 2007; Symposium, Panama’s Explosive Urban Growth, 4 Tenn. J. L. & Pol’y 158 (2008).
  2. Bogotá, Colombia, 2008; Symposium, Multicultural Colombia: Urban & Rural Lands, Rights of Self-Governance and Cultural Difference, 40 U. Miami Inter- Am. L. Rev. 197 (2009).
  3. Social and Cultural Demands on Private and Public Lands in the Post-Colonial North American West: Managing the “City Beautiful,” Denver, Colorado, 2008 (papers published as part of the LatCrit 2013 Conference Symposium); Symposium, Resistance Rising: Theorizing and Building Cross-Sector Movements, 12 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 913 (2014).
  4. The Use and Control of Space and Institutions for Social Transformation—the Case of Medellín, Medellín, Colombia, 2009; Symposium, Multicultural Colombia: Urban & Rural Lands, Rights of Self-Governance and Cultural Difference, 41 U. Miami Inter-Am. L. Rev. 1 (2009).
  5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2010; Symposium, Inclusive and Sustainable Rio: Cultural Diversity, Property and the Environment, 44 U. Miami Inter-Am. L. Rev. 139 (2013).
  6. Comparative Systems in Law and Society, Havana, Cuba, 2013 (no publication).
  7. Corporations, the State, and the Rule of Law, Guatemala, 2015; published book From Extraction to Emancipation: Reimagining Development for Guatemala (Carolina Academic Press and ABA Section of International Law 2017).

Ensuring Follow-up: We have proactively tried to make the Study Space immersions more than a one-time event. Consider the model of the Study Space in Guatemala. The Study Space was arranged by LatCrit community member Raquel Aldana, who had longstanding relationships with the groups visited. For the most part, Study Space participants came to the communities in their own far-flung meeting spaces rather than bringing them to a central and formal academic setting. Participants supported their community chest by purchasing their art and donating to their causes. After the Study Space, the participants held an academic conference at a U.S. law school that brought together the Study Space participants, with some of the Guatemalan organizations we visited in attendance. The organizers secured a book publication to disseminate the ideas and knowledge from the bottom derived from the immersion and the follow-up conference. And, finally, the organizers held a South-North Exchange at the same site to continue efforts to learn from, and in some cases to lend aid to, the local struggles, when and where those community members felt it best. LatCrit also published a symposium following the South-North Exchange and the organizers are alert to ways in which the Study Space participants individually, and more so collectively, can continue contact and involvement with the local issues.

Cost: Participants will pay the cost of their own travel, accommodation, meals and a nominal program fee. These costs will be kept as low as possible, and may include some meals, ground transportation costs and costs related to field trips (e.g., admissions, speaker fees.) Participants will receive detailed information of these costs in advance.