The focal point of this course is the globalizing city and the changes associated with urban restructuring. Its aim is a complex understanding of the contemporary urban condition, its method is the historicization of current urban change. The class starts with the construction of the modern city and the main elements of urban life and culminates in the analysis of various models of contemporary urban transformations textured by global capitalism. There is an overall emphasis on divisions in the urban project, the uneven production of space, the politics and inequalities of city-building and –dwelling, and the differential rights to the city.
Parallel to these themes and emphases runs the introduction of the conceptual staples of urban studies from a critical perspective interrogating the biases of urban theory, which has privileged the modern European city. The course is therefore comparative temporally, spatially and conceptually. There is no prerequisite for the class but you are expected to have some background in the social sciences and a willingness to read and think beyond your discipline.
This is not a lecture course or a free-floating seminar; rather, a genre in-between—a seminar with structured summaries and background information provided by the instructor. Active and informed participation is essential and will count as part of your grade. Each of you will be asked to initiate a class discussion at least once, which should not be a mere summary of the readings but a problem-oriented analysis of the themes of the class, or a further explication of a theme of your choice (from among the topics of the week) that relies on additional sources. Depending on class size, it can also be a group project.