Urban Futures: Visions, Speculation, Resistance
In the first decades of the 21st century, we have become used to hearing that "the future is urban". Contemporary cities are often proclaimed to be sites of innovation, where visions for the future are imagined and negotiated. However, in times of dwindling natural resources and sprawling inequalities, what are the social repercussions of such future predictions? Who is affected by them in what way? As sites of capital accumulation, cities have also long been spaces of economic speculation, dispossession and displacement. By imagining alternative futures for the city, actors of varied political factions are increasingly resisting and reformulating the urban futures predicted and mandated by markets, technologies and policies. Cities are thus drivers of change - we are told by the institutions and actors in charge of building and managing, as well as by those who stand up to them. In this course, we are going to delve into ethnographies that detect and discuss future-oriented transformation in urban space. We will draw on various anthropological theories, methods and questions to examine cities and urban life, and how they relate to the temporal realm of the future. In the first part of the course, we will read introductory texts to urban anthropology, and learn how this subset of anthropology is tied to other disciplines and approaches, such as geography, sociology or planning. Following that, by looking into ethnographies of cities in the Global South and North, we are going to discuss: how do communities from Rio de Janeiro (Kemmer 2021) to Zurich engage in (re-)imagining the future of their lived urban environments? How do visions for feminist futures, climate justice or racial equality intersect with the urban in contexts as varied as Cairo (de Koning 2009), Toronto (Kern 2021) or Jakarta (Simone 2010)? And ultimately, who gets to participate in, decide over and oppose what the future of a city will look like? And who does not?
|10:15 - 12:00
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