Architects today must grapple with the emotionally charged and politically contested spaces—middlegrounds—that have come into being through settler colonial displacement: zoning processes based on non-Indigenous legal systems have established property, and settlement and design interventions have made land ”common.” Middleground takes the position that settler spatial practitioners must now work to return land that has been colonized through design.

The term “middleground” names the spaces in and practices through which architecture continues to be complicit in the dispossession of Indigenous lands. As an intentional curatorial form of settler accountability, we acknowledge pre-existing Indigenous rights to the sovereignty and use of land in what is now known as North America. This critical reading of exemplary projects from the CCA Collection reveals everyday spatial and power dynamics that have created middlegrounds but that have not often been acknowledged. Beyond restitution, how can architects participate in imagining more just futures for sites of dispossession?

Middleground is the result of a series of conversations between Ella den Elzen (Curatorial Coordinator), Rafico Ruiz (Associate Director, Research), and Camille Saade-Traboulsi (Administrative Coordinator, Publications and Research). Thanks to Indigenous advising editor Kaitlin Littlechild. All territorial and treaty names used in this project were accessed through

Graphic design: Louise Paradis, Montréal

The CCA gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

Audio introduction

Selected objects

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