Aja Grande
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Aja Grande

Aja Grande is an ethnographer of civic infrastructure and land ecologies as spaces of subject formation. She researches emergent forms of living among built environments in Hawai’i and Rhode Island throughout the 20th-21st centuries. As a transmedia scholar, one who works across various forms of media, her scholarship embraces writing, documentary filmmaking, and multimedia exhibitions for community engagement. Born and raised on the island of O'ahu in Hawai’i, she has been gifted with an obligation to raise awareness about and sustain mindful relations with the 'aina (that which feeds).

Aja's research focuses on sustainable city building in Honolulu, Hawai’i and Providence, Rhode Island. She looks at how urban planners in both cities are drawing on Indigenous knowledge for climate change resilience and environmental justice transitions. Outside of MIT, she is a consultant for multi-use infrastructure and greenway projects, such as a Hawai'i-based agrivoltaics farm, as well as river beautification projects carried out by local youth in Providence.

While an undergraduate at Brown, Aja founded and ran the Ethnobotany Society, founded so that students could explore the relationship between people and plants in Rhode Island. Her previous experience ranges from interning at a multi-national engineering and design firm to grassroots organizing within communities and educational institutions.

Aja is the 2020 recipient of the Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship in Garden History and Design from the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), and a 2021 Fellow of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. She holds a B.A. in Science and Society from Brown University, and is a Ph.D Candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Key words

civic infrastructures; communities of practice; land-based learning; Indigenous sovereignty; settler colonialism; ethnobotany

E-mail

grande@mit.edu

 

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