As students, we often hear nebulous terms tossed around in lectures, heated conversations, and especially on Twitter rants. The kinds of phrases I’m talking about are the ones that you have a grasp on, but may struggle to provide a precise definition when asked directly–or maybe, at this point, you’re too afraid to ask. This can be frustrating, but also restrictive. When you don’t possess the vocabulary used in a certain discourse, it can be difficult to truly participate and enact change.
We can be quick to employ these academic-sometimes-bordering-on-pseudo-intellectual terms in everyday conversations but seldom take the time to really unpack the meanings of these phrases, their political and social implications, and their origins in a historical context. The problem here being that many of these socio-political concepts can’t be reduced into concise, elevator-pitch-length definitions. To really get a hold on broad subjects surrounding urbanism, it’s important to not just read about them, but talk about them, walk through them (both physically and didactically) and ask questions about them, too.
This was one of the questions posed by Ashley Dawson, an author and member of a panel on Friday, November 3, 2017 panel, Urban Futures. The conversation, held at the CUNY graduate center, was sponsored by The Center for the Humanities. Kendra Sullivan, the associate director of The Center for the Humanities, kicked off the event by introducing the speakers. The panel also featured architect Catherine Seavitt, environmental activist Mychal Johnson, and urban theorist/author David Harvey. The discussion centered around the current and “extreme” state of cities, the progress that has or hasn’t been made since Hurricane Sandy, and what prospects for radical transformation lie in the cities of the future.
On Monday, April 17th, The Urban Democracy Lab and Deutsches Haus at NYU presented a panel, “Welcome to the Occupation: Squatting and Resistance from Berlin to New York” to discuss urban precarity, squatting, and urban social movements. Panelists included cultural anthropologist Amy Starecheski, writer/activist and former squatter Frank Morales and Associate Professor in Human Geography Alexander Vasudevan. Geographer Pierpaolo Mudu moderated the event. Continue reading →