We live in an urban majority world, with diverse patterns of urbanization and types of urban places. Cities are not just nodes on transaction networks, or physical collections of built form specific to a context and global movements, or a mix of cultures over time. But what constitutes the city?We need to engage a body of knowledge that conceptualizes and theorizes cities and urbanization to understand the places where we wish to work, play and live. This course seeks to introduce students to the broad contours of an interdisciplinary body of work that aims to theorize the city. There is a well-established tradition of urban theory that emerges from perspectives on city economy, environment, infrastructure, social life, cultural experience, urban politics and interventions. We familiarize ourselves with this tradition and its core perspectives through lectures, readings and discussions in class and sections. However, no urban theory captures the sheer range of city types and experiences with which we are familiar. Having a sense of the extent of urban variation is crucial. To this end, sections will be divided into groups who will each choose a city to explore how theory plays out on the ground through the semester.
URBAN TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH
We live in the age of the city. At some point in the last decade, most of the world’s population became urban. The bulk of urban growth in the future is expected to occur in the global South—a vast geographical and conceptual space where we find both the ruins and the vibrant, thriving reiterations of the world’s first cities. Across the global South, urbanization patterns and urban life continues to become more diverse with rising inequality amidst rapid economic change in some parts of the world, while other parts experience ongoing political strife and a variety of stresses. This course aimed to introduce students to a body of work on the cities of the global South, their diversity, growth and change starting in the early twentieth century. Drawing on a large interdisciplinary literature, students consider the different ways in which scholars and researchers have sought to conceptualize and understand processes of city-building in the global South. Students are expected to be active contributors to the discussions and to research urban issues in a part of the world they choose more fully as we work our way through different topics every week.
THE GLOBAL CITY
This class encourages students to explore a variety of materials to understand a range of large cities including Shanghai, Mumbai, Lagos, Cape Town, Mexico City, Sao Paolo, Bangkok and more. It is designed to introduce students to the study of cities in the global South though a spatial perspective. Through lectures, audio-visual materials, assigned course readings, and discussion, the course aims to provide students with a global perspective on processes of urbanization, an understanding of the political, economic, social, and cultural forces that shape cities, their growth, and urban life within them. It is an introduction to key terms and ideas in urban studies to understand the range of issues faced by cities in the global South, an opportunity to further develop critical thinking, research and writing skills.
Spring 2013 with Michael Jones-Correa
Cities are not just nodes on transaction networks or physical collections of built form specific to a context and a mix of cultures over time. They are political assemblages in which institutions of governance are forged and continue to be shaped as polities change and morph over time. The challenges of each period of city-building shift as various processes impacting society assume differing levels of importance, ranging from changing migration patterns and large-scale population movements to changes in geo-political power and the technologies of infrastructure, communication and manufacturing. This graduate seminar will draw on the experience of cities across varied contexts at two moments in recent history to examine processes of institutionalization and governance. The historical moments we focus on are early industrialization and colonization (starting in the 19thcentury in the United States) and the current moment of late global capitalism in the context of a resurgent Asia. Students are expected to be active contributors to the discussions and to complete a research paper on a topic of their choice related to the class.
THE EUROPEAN CITY, PUBLIC SPHERE AND PUBLIC SPACE
This course focuses on contemporary Rome, its people, the places where they live and work and the forces that drive the city’s growth and development. We explore these issues through the methods and techniques that planners typically use to understand the city. Students will work in small groups, each of which will be assigned to a neighborhood. The intention is to begin the process of learning to read a city. We hope also, in some small way, to give back to the communities we engage with. Readings and discussions will be brief and focused, but field work will be extensive and intensive, occupying scheduled class time and other hours to be informally scheduled, taking an average of 16 hours/week. The final product includes boards on each neighborhood for an Exhibit, and a report to the community in which students worked.