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Ersela Kripa, Francesco Marullo, & Stephen Mueller
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This issue of the Journal of Architectural Education explores the environment of the desert in its geopolitical, infrastructural, and aesthetic dimensions, acknowledging that deserts continue to transform architectural imagination and collective intelligence.

The word desert—from the Latin desertum, left, abandoned, and withdrawn—has been exploited for centuries as a reductionist trope to evoke desolate ecosystems where hostile climatic circumstances and extreme temperatures prevent life from thriving. Eurocentric and Western perspectives especially have mischaracterized deserts as precarious and dangerous wastelands, often connoted with mystical, exotic, and sublime dimensions, enabling violent occupations, extractive campaigns, and colonialist expansions. Centuries of environmental racism have extracted, excluded, and exploited desert territories and desert communities, exacerbating conflicts across the most contested regions of the planet to this day.

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