UC Berkeley Geography

This is Javier's old retired blog.



Sep '06 - Oct '06

  • anchor

    The setup. (W/ footnotes)

    Javier Arbona-Homar
    Sep 3, '06 5:35 PM EST
    Hi. Some of you knew me in the Archinect news and discussions. I just started a doctoral program, yes, in geography. What? Yeah. It's a broad discipline.* I'll get into it more as the blog rolls along. I study landscapes, principally. No...well, I actually study culture. Well...sort of...At the farthest depth of my research is the problem of society trying to define nature.
    For now, take a look at my desk. I do most of my work from my cave in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. I take the Bart to go to Berkli four or five times a week while I listen to dublab sounds and read.

    That's flickr on the screen. I am currectly reading The Sociological Imagination by Charles Wright Mills, and some Raymond Williams and David Harvey on the side. Rad, as Izzy would say.

    * My Standard Disclaimer: Even though my research has moved somewhat away from the object-building of my professional background as an architect, I am still a fan of the entertainment value found in the complex forces that shape a project as played out in the public theatre. In fact, it is my background in cities and theories of formal design that led me to geography as an inquiry into the shaping and bounding of spaces.


    • b3tadine[sutures]

      congrats on the new pursuit. any chance you might incorporate some of this in your dissertation?

      Sep 3, 06 7:40 pm  · 

      Wow, Javier. Talk about a coincidence. I was just this moment working on a definition for "cultural landscape" for a class lecture I'm giving this week. Are you at Berkeley? Working with Paul Groth, perhaps? Geography is a fine and noble place for us, I believe.

      Your academic trajectory is similar to mine, it sounds like. Always an architect, but now also a student of the built environment, good and bad. (I'm in a planning program.) Frequently, my aesthetic sensibility gained in architectural school and practice is at odds with the odd I run across in cultural landscape studies. My architect friends look at me askance when I go on about the value of vernacular buildings and settings, even when "ugly." But I love it.

      Great good luck to you in your new program!

      Sep 3, 06 7:44 pm  · 

      thanks beta, yes... Galleri Silver Screen is a definite yes as dissertation material ;)

      citizen: yes...Paul Groth is right now one of my adviors, even though we don't really pick an advisor until the end of this first year. I don't know if you are teaching an undergrad lecture or what, but here is one little article that i always like to refer to: Foster, David R. “Conservation Lessons & Challenges from Ecological History” in Forest History Today, Fall 2000. Pp.2-11. A really good presentation of the conflicts of trying to define what a cultural landscape is. You can certainly check my bookmarks. let me know if you have any. thanks...

      Sep 3, 06 8:07 pm  · 


      my own research is as fuzzily defined as yours...which is as it should be.

      but damn it is hard to figure out how to conduct research as an architect/urbanist when the work borders on sociology, and we have been taught to distrust anything of the sort. my only refuge is advice from urban geographers...who luckily are very intelligent it looks like you are in the right company.

      i have the same problem as you citizen, though it is as much from my professor as the architects around me. what i am studying looks pretty crappy in photographs but as a morphological phenomenon is really fantastic and unusual. architects (including me) have a hard time seeing past the surface to th processes underneath. it means i have to work that much harder explaining things in a graphically nice way...;-) which is i suppose a good thing.

      luck javier!

      Sep 3, 06 10:32 pm  · 

      all this talk make me want to do a post-grad or Phd even more. damnit...

      my interests are broadly parallel to all of you guys, although I'm just entertaining myself with work right now. I need to do something to keep my head in the right mindset... anyway I'm looking forward to reading your blog Javier.

      Sep 4, 06 12:19 am  · 
      Smokety Mc Smoke Smoke

      On my next school blog, I will post a picture of my work space at the A+A building, which is shamefully messy and clutttered with coffee cups and junk food wrappers.

      Sep 4, 06 11:05 am  · 

      Javier, I am completely fascinated. Reading just the first entry of your blog makes me feel smarter already! Looking forward to more.

      Sep 4, 06 7:10 pm  · 
      liberty bell

      When we were dating I used to tease my now-husband about his mom getting her master's degree* in "American Studies". I just couldn't get my head around the idea of "studying" something so vast and changeable and personal.

      But now that I'm older and have a broader mind, I can see that studying something huge like "culture" through a lens of "physical environment" is something I could easily spend a lifetime doing.

      Good luck Javier and I can't wait to see and read more!

      *I'm jumping on the footnote bandwagon! I should clarfiy that his mom got her Master's degree at age 52, and I never had anything but complete respect for the fact of her going back to school late in life. It was just the program I thought was somehow not as "important" as my Architecture studies was. Ah, ignorant youth.

      Sep 4, 06 9:32 pm  · 

      Thanks for the cite on CL definitions, Javier. I'll look it up.

      You've clearly got your fellow Archinecters' interest piqued with your academic pursuits. And I think it's only natural. Most architects are inherently intrigued by the ins and outs of the built environment at large, not just the Dee-sign of Big, Important Buildings by Famous Architects. This broader approach to understanding the built world, including (especially?) the vernacular landscape is now the object of study for geograpers, planners, and historians as well. But, I believe that architects bring a particularly keen sensibility and skill set to this work that adds an important dimension about the actual _making_ of things. Of course, I'm biased :)

      Sep 4, 06 10:45 pm  · 

      I guess I should and will be clarifying more later on that even though I am interested in issues about what constitutes a vernacular landscape, I'm more interested for now in what appears to be "untouched." I'll be doing more on that in upcoming entries, I expect...

      Sep 5, 06 12:37 am  · 

      Reading Cronon, Worster, Richard White?

      Sep 5, 06 12:56 am  · 
      Oana S.

      nice to 'read' you!!!

      Sep 5, 06 2:34 am  · 

      1-citi: I'll remember to post the readings for my the nature & culture grad seminar. Cronon is part of the reading list for the 'geographical point of view' course.

      2-thanks oana!

      Sep 5, 06 2:49 am  · 

      is that an italian dictionary?? ... bravo bravo

      Sep 8, 06 6:18 am  · 


      Sep 8, 06 11:44 am  · 

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