Memory Atlas for Repair

2021-23 Mellon Faculty Grant

Architecture students working with Professor Karl Linn created an exhibition outside the Student Center that featured images and provocations from “The Urban Challenge” symposium earlier that year. Courtesy of the MIT Museum.
Speculative design work of Racial Justice Teach-In participants (MIT DUSP, 2021) responding to a prompt to identify a dominant collective memory that participants would contest and develop a schematic counter-memory proposal motivated by the “desire for wholeness and restoration” that animates memory justice.

Activating memory justice to imagine a future for urban design and planning with racial justice at the center


The Memory Atlas for Repair is an exhibition that attempts to reckon with the historical persistence of racialized dispossession in cities. Located in the MIT Student Center Plaza, it evokes a place of memory as the site of the 1968 exhibition that commemorated the civil rights work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. after his assassination. 

Memory Atlas returns to the ethical dilemmas that surfaced in the 1968 exhibition through oral histories and historical photographs to recognize the displacement and oppression enacted by urban design and planning. The project engages the organizers and activists featured in 1968 with current students, faculty, and alumni in forms of speculative work to imagine forms of repair. To those ends, the Memory Atlas activates the work of memory justice, providing a platform for acknowledging painful pasts, considering implications for the present, and imagining a future of practice and urban life with racial justice at the center.


Delia Duong Ba Wendel is an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and International Development at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. Her research explores forms of community repair after conflict and disaster. Wendel approaches this work from an interdisciplinary perspective that draws together Urban Planning, Architectural History, Cultural Geography, and Anthropology. Current research explores how individuals live together after mass violence and is based on ten years of ongoing work in Rwanda.

Biography: MIT Department of Urban Planning