Dystopian Urbanisms

Dark haze over Manhattan

By many measures, the global future does not look bright. Climate change is largely unaddressed, wealth inequality is skyrocketing, and violent conflict has created both forced migration and new forms of xenophobia. While most of these issues involve the (in)actions of nation-states, they will play out at the level of the city. Given the many new demands on shelter, access to food and water, and social integration, the challenges to maintaining democratic cities in the 21st century are enormous.

This panel will consider those challenges and offer insight into several global examples of marginalized populations coping with 21st century urban problems. In particular, the panelists will analyze how new forms of exclusion are occurring in international cities in response to environmental factors such as climate vulnerability, land shortages, and water availability. Finally, they will reflect on whether a dystopian vision of 21st century urban life is justified, what forms it may take, and how it can potentially be mitigated.


Liza Weinstein, Associate Professor, Northeastern University, Sociology
Gokce Gunel, Columbia University, Faculty Fellow, Anthropology
Carlos Forment, Associate Professor and Director of Latin American Studies, New School for Social Research

Moderator: Max Holleran, New York University, Sociology

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