Dust and Design
Click on the image above to read this article, originally published in the journal On Site Review in a 2011 special issue on "Architecture and Dirt." It looks at the Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant camps through the lens of design, politics, and governmentality. Between 1932 and 1942 the FSA and its precursor, the Resettlement Administration, constructed 95 camps across the United States--predominantly in the South and West. The camps provided temporary shelter for over 75,000 people displaced into migrant labor by the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. For several years, the FSA sent a pool of talented photographers around the country to document life in the camps, including Dorthea Lang, Russell Lee, and Arthur Rothstein. They created an extraordinary visual archive documenting the ways in which the federal government deployed design in a time of economic and environmental catastrophe.