The Implications of the Built Environment and Individual Sovereignty: An Examination of New York Skyscrapers and Lakota Tipis



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My senior thesis research explores how spatial theory is linked to social systems. I argue that the built environment reflects and reinforces societal values. After all, social systems are enacted through a physically lived experience. How have individual sovereignty, capitalism, and modernity shaped the Euro-American urban landscape? What did that space look like before settler-colonialism, and what can we learn from that? Through analyzing two contrasting case studies, New York skyscrapers and Lakota tipis, I aim to break down the implications that organized space has for society. I concentrate on how skyscrapers, with their imposingly tall and rectilinear forms communicate values of individual sovereignty. In contrast, Lakota tipis, with their functional mobility and circular base, promote communal ideals. I question the assumption that individual sovereignty is a worthy goal in society, especially within the geologic time of the Anthropocene. Furthermore, I contextualize how climate change provides an opportunity for us to reconfigure society to be a more just and accessible system.



Space, Spatial Theory, Lefebvre, Modernity, Anthropocene, Sovereignty, Skyscraper, Lakota, Tipi, Indigenous, Community