Contesting the De-industrial Futures of the Upper Mississippi

August 20th, 2019

A multilayered project towards the de-regulation of nature.

The possibilities and challenges of the post-industrialization of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities—and the complex social-ecological issues that arise as a result—are the focus of the multimedia and multi-layered project led by Morgan Adamson, Bruce Brau, and Roopali Phadke.

The project looks at two aspects of the urban context in which the upper Mississippi is being reimagined. The first is the redevelopment of formerly industrial spaces, while the second concerns the potential de-commissioning of two dams, leading to the “rewilding” of the river. In light of the economic transformations that have taken place within both Minneapolis and St. Paul over the past two decades, the project  seeks to understand how the Anthropocene River intersects with issues of gentrification, racial justice, and notions of wilderness that come with de-industrialization. It also examines the ecological implications of these transformations and their consequences for a river situated in a settler-colonial context.

The project has four main components. The first is a documentary film class at Macalester College taught by Morgan Adamson devoted to studying the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal in North Minneapolis. Second is a public forum with stakeholders from both the redevelopment and the dam removal project. Walking tours of relevant sites, such as Pigs Eye in St. Paul, the Upper Harbor in Minneapolis, as well as Ford Lock and Dam will be included as well. Lastly, media projects, including a short documentary film on the Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment and a website with photographs and interpretive descriptions of relevant sites (inspired by the American Bottoms project form the St. Louis field station), will afford another layer of access to the project.