Come to Yale; the lawns are always mowed, and the tables always clean!
I think this Morning Edition article was an awesome choice to pair with Lie of the Land. While reading all about the history of agricultural laborers in California, it was very easy to get caught in the idea that Mitchell’s musings on the duplicitous appearance and representations of landscape apply only to beautiful open fields or stretches of healthy crops. However, after reading this article and analysis, I would definitely agree that we can apply Mitchell’s landscape theory to institutions like Yale. In Yale’s view-book, and in pictures of our pristine campus online, there are no shots of the maintenance crews who help this place to stay as breathtakingly manicured and clean as it is all the time. People even wash the black boards every night so that they are crisp and ready for teaching the next day! While those who work at Yale do not endure the abysmal treatment received by immigrant workers in the 20th century California, and while the beauty of our campus is not hopelessly entwined with or the direct result of the damnation of all those who work to bring about its aesthetic, we definitely do not champion these people with the credit they deserve, and their hard work on our living space in no way ensures them the means to obtain and keep up an equally beautiful dwelling of their own. Mitchell comments on the tendency of those who exploited migrant laborers to simultaneously complain about them, and, on a smaller scale, I’ve known Yale students to get upset over maintenance sounds running at 8 in the morning, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone taking a photo of a verdant, perfectly mowed Cross Campus didn’t want a man or woman sitting on a lawnmower in the foreground of the shot.
Landscapes and Labor in California By: Joshua Mandell (8 October 2014)