Race and space | Materials

Pantheon// supports the Black Lives Matter movement and acknowledges the problem of structural racism. As a magazine that deals with the built environment, we would like to provide a series on the topic of race and space for the education of our readers and ourselves. This is the last of five topics.




The construction of space requires materials. Even the construction of virtual spaces needs certain minerals to produce our smartphones, laptops and tablets. Resource extraction is at the base of colonisation and is still often done through the exploitation of others. In addition, waste management sometimes boils down to simply discarding close to marginalised groups.


The following sources deal with the extraction or discardment of material:

Serpent Rain (Directors: Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman, 2016) [Film]

Serpent Rain is structured around long shots of landscapes intermitted by images of recent riots sparked by police brutality against black lives, and Turner's painting The Slave Ship. This 'film without time', as the directors call it, explores topics of resource extraction, slavery, the Black Lives Matter movement and the matter of life itself.


- Prado, Marcos. Estamira (2003) & Estamira: Para Todos e Para Ninguém (2007) [Documentaries]

These documentaries follow Estamira Gomes de Sousa, a schizophrenic woman who lives off the Jardim Gramacho dump near Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It is a powerful story showing the effects of capitalist consumerism on human lives, as well as people's remarkable resilience.


Gravesend (Director: Steve McQueen, 2007) [Film]

This short film centers on coltan, a mineral used in mobile phones and computers, which can only be found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It explores the direct link between technology and global networks on the one hand, and neo-imperialism and violence on the other.


The above selection is based on a curriculum by The Barthlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment on race in space. As it is in support of the current Black Lives Matter movement, it focuses on the impact of space on black lives. The choice of some articles over others is based on an attempt to show a variety of cases and locations and the availability of sources for students of TU Delft University. Pantheon wants to hear your thoughts on this article and how we can further contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. 



1. Zewolde, S., Walls A., Sengupta, T., Ortiz, C., Beebeejaun, Y., Burridge, G. and K. Patel (2020), ‘Race’ and Space: What is ‘race’ doing in a nice field like the built environment? London: The Bartlett, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment