Email: melisa.miranda@ed.ac.uk

Programme: Landscape Architecture - MPhil/PhD

Start date: June 2017

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: Placemaking in transit. Indigenous identities between ‘pueblos’ and a city in Chile

I am a PhD candidate at Edinburgh University in the programme of Landscape Architecture. After completing my Ma Architecture in 2014, I collaborated in urban research projects with multidisciplinary teams from sociologist, economist and geographers, where I learned different methods for conceptualising territorial and spatial issues. That experience consisted of participatory urban design processes, community engagement, participatory planning, regional assessment and national monuments conservation. 

In January 2017, I came to Edinburgh to complete an MPhil in Landscape Architecture. For the last two years, I have been a Research Fellow at CDCS (Centre for Data culture and society) for the research project 'The cultures and the community mapping project’, directed by Dr Morgan Curie. At this project, we have composed an online map of Edinburgh Cultural Spaces, alongside workshops, interviews and involvement with artists and community organisations in the city. 

These experiences have allowed me to evidence the role of mapping as potent processes, influencing the perception of space. From here is where I want to contribute to equality and accessibility, and balancing power of unrepresented and minority groups through maps. I also intend to transfer this approach to students, not only from a theoretical perspective but also through teaching the skills in terms of software and new developments in a world moving forward an online interface.

My teaching experience in the UK began in 2017 when I was a tutor in 'Elements' and' Art and Design, two first-year courses of Architecture and Landscape Architecture undergraduate program. In 2018 I was a tutor once again for ‘Elements’. In 2019 was a course organiser at EGIS, The Urban Institute, School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society at Heriot-Watt University where I taught statistics and GIS mapping methods to urban planners and urbanists undergrads. On the first semester of 2020, I became a tutor for the course ‘Situating Landscapes’ at the MLA program. Throughout this experience, I have used platforms such as Learn, Teams and Collaborate for distance education. I have acquired teaching skills regarding effective communication in all different learning instances, from the design of the syllabus, lectures, seminars and feedback.

To outline my approach to landscape architecture research I require to quote Soja, as I consider myself ‘someone who interprets the world by assertively foregrounding a spatial perspective. (Soja 2009, 12). This spatial enquiry is grounded cultural landscape ideas and human geography, fields I tend to relate with decolonised research and participatory action research. My practice stands on mapping relations between people and places, which allows me to provide tools to people and communities in exchange for knowledge. These maps are used in spatial and tenure claims or self-reflective processes.

My PhD research consists in exploring Indigenous identities in transit between rural and urban contexts as a multi-site ethnography on dynamic communities, exploring issues regarding placemaking and spatial practices. My methods centre on landscapes representation through the creation of collaborative maps. I explore the idea that through place representation, people activate collective memories and placemaking. The theoretic framework I relate to these ideas if Linguistic landscape, or how the public space is symbolically constructed. This field from sociolinguistics provides discursive tools useful in assessing spatial practices with no material trace.

Soja, E.W., 2008. Taking space personally. In The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. pp. The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 2008–09-17.