Memory Atlas for Repair

MLK Observance exhibit at the Student Center, late 1960s. Courtesy MIT Museum


The Memory Atlas for Repair is an exhibition funded by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and a 2021-22 Mellon Faculty Grant that attempts to reckon with the historical persistence of racialized dispossession in cities. Set to launch in the MIT Student Center Plaza in April of 2023, the exhibition evokes a place of memory as the site of the MIT 1968 MLK Jr. Memorial 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.

Leading the project is Delia Duong Ba Wendel, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and International Development at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), with research assistance from graduate student Tyler Luis Rivera MCP '22. Wendel's 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.