SoA Lecture: Germane Barnes

New south global south
October 9, 2023 - 2:00 PM
Boardman Auditorium, Storrs

Germane Barnes's research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity, examining architecture’s social and political agency through historical research and design speculation. Learning from historical data and perspectives from within architecture as well as cultural and ethnic studies, he examines how the built environment influences the social and cultural experience.

Born in Chicago, IL Germane Barnes received a Bachelor's of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Architecture from Woodbury University, where he was awarded the Thesis Prize for his project Symbiotic Territories: Architectural Investigations of Race, Identity, and Community. He believes strongly in design as a process, and approaches each condition imposed on a project as an opportunity rather than a constraint. Architecture presents opportunities for transformation – materially, conceptually and sociologically. 

Currently Barnes is the designer in residence for the Opa Locka Community Development Corporation and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture at the University of Miami. He has previously taught graduate seminars, and workshops at Woodbury University. His design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international publications and institutions. Most notably, The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, The Swiss Institute, DesignMIAMI/ and, where he was named a member of the 2015 Class of Young Guns, under-the-radar professionals who are busy challenging the status quo in the design industry.

Barnes is presented as part of the David R. Ravin School of Architecture 2023-24 Lecture Series, New South meets Global South.

In 1886, Atlanta Constitution editor Henry W. Grady delivered a speech to the New England Society in New York City entitled The New South, boasting of the vibrant economy of urban industrial growth in the post-Civil War South that was replacing the antebellum world of slavery-based rural agriculture. Cities like Charlotte continue to use this phrase to connect their identities with growth and financial prosperity and encourage investment. What was barely implied by Grady and is only just being acknowledged is the structural racism and exclusion inherent in this prosperity. Not only in the American South but throughout the so- called First World, we live in a new colonialism that continues to marginalize people of color and perpetuate inequitable access to resources.

Similarly, the Global South refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania that generally lie south of the Equator and were exploited by European colonization. These regions continue to be treated as opportunities for investment and wealth production, decimating economies and ecologies while continuing repression of local cultures. The economic, political, and cultural marginalization of the peoples and landscapes of the Global South mirrors that of the New South, demonstrating how colonialism and the violent pursuit of wealth continue today.

The School of Architecture's Lecture Series for 2023-24 will highlight research and design practices working to reveal the colonial injustices of the New South and the Global South as well as to celebrate their marginalized peoples and practices. Presenters are working to overcome social injustice by investigating topics such as territory, housing, immigration, race, social inequity, and civil rights. Their works provide insight into overcoming injustices while producing innovative solutions to issues including climate adaptation, sustainability, resilience, integration, and identity at scales ranging from regional territories to building materials.