Date of Award

Spring 6-3-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Elizabeth Dean Hermann

Second Advisor

Courtney Goode

Third Advisor



Healing the Haunted probes into the capacity of healing towards land trauma. It defines land trauma as a reflexive process that is rooted in the perspective of topophilia—the affective bond with one's environment. Human extractive activities that cause physical ecological violence have led to trauma on the land, which can result in a disconnection between people and their environment, leaving negative effects on the mind and body over the long term. The tangible or hidden wounds lead to an unsettling encounter with the ghost, turning topophilia into topophobia.

To calm the haunting apparition, this thesis suggests healing man-land bond along with healing the land itself. By seeing the body as the medium between physical and psychic mending and reconstruction, the proposal seeks to reunite people and land through body-engaged ceremonial interventions spatially and temporally. By employing walking and tending of land as a form of embodied stitching, the phased repairing process considers the landscape a mnemonic device inscribing man-land interactions. The intervention will serve as the retrieval process of the past and the burial ritual of the loss, meanwhile a stitching and repairing process that associates people with land in a reciprocal and resilient way.

As argued in this thesis, healing serves as a two-way restoration process that repairs land and people simultaneously. The past emphasis on ecological techniques in land reclamation has neglected community needs, long-term human commitment, and broader impacts of environmental degradation, failing to address the source of land trauma deeply rooted in the separation between nature and humans and bereft stewardship of the land. By incorporating humanistic care and involving the local community in the restoration process, we are supposed to witness and remember the land trauma and view the land as an extension of ourselves and vice versa. In this way, we breathe together, resonate together, and heal together.


View exhibition online: Pian Zhang, Healing the Haunted



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