Of Two Minds: Excavating the Split Estate
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CitationGrosman, Shira. 2021. Of Two Minds: Excavating the Split Estate. Master's thesis, Harvard Graduate School of Design.
AbstractThe split estate is a political-legal framework in the United States that severs surface property from subsurface. This effectively duplicates available property in the United States and establishes a palimpsest of ownership of land with the ground as delimiter. In practice, this condition decouples land from its geologic underpinnings and establishes distinct rights to the access and use of landed property and minerals. It calls into question the flat condition of property. This thesis unpacks the effects of this splitting as a precedent of the continuous commodification of the American public domain. I use the split estate to frame landscape as a political-aesthetic instrument through which to question notions of territory, divisibility and the image of public lands in the United States. I take as my subject sites within the United States where the surface is public land (National Parks, National Forests, et al.) and the subsurface is private extraction. Using imagery, mapping and drawing, this is explored through six ways of seeing the split estate: territorial, geological, hydrological, financial, sublime and legal. Through this excavation, the competing ideologies of private extraction and wilderness imaginary are brought to the fore, questioning how use of the underground reinscribes the boundaries of property above.
Finally, this thesis projects ways the split estate could be understood within the socio-cultural landscape of America. It proposes didactic tools, which engage the greater public in this topic and seeks to upend traditional representations of the extraction/conservation dichotomy.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367873