• Savage Mind to Savage Machine: Racial Science and Twentieth-Century Design
    Ginger Nolan
    University of Minnesota Press, 2021
    Ginger Nolan

Anonymous, electronic circuitry and jungle vines in "AGORA," 1:7 (January–March, 1982).

Situated at the intersections of design history, media theory, and race studies, this project traced how constructions of race and the so-called primitive have been formulated through Euro-American spatial and technological design practices over the course of the twentieth century. The entanglements of the racial and the technological form a significant aspect of the modernist pursuit the author calls “the ergonomics of the spirit,” referring to the design of the human cognitive apparatus in relation to new technologies of production, consumption, and governmentality. Toward these ends, designers drew from anthropological and psychological accounts of the unconscious, using these as the basis for new “grammars” of design. The book moves from late-nineteenth-century entanglements between the industrial arts and social-scientific theories of human cognition to several mid-twentieth century disciplinary developments in architecture, urbanism, and environmental design, concluding with designers’ forays into computation in the late twentieth century.

Ginger Nolan is assistant professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California. Her work has been published in journals including Grey Room, The Journal of Architecture, and Architecture Theory Review. She is currently undertaking a research project investigating how the increasing replacement of human labor with automation might impact the organization of cities and its inhabitants. A second research project examines the architectures and infrastructures of US settler colonialism. Nolan is the recipient of the 2013 Carter Manny Award for doctoral dissertation writing from the Graham Foundation.