Course Descriptions

16:450:516 Urban Geography

Urban natures are variously described as decaying or fecund, moribund or overflowing, restricted or boundless, terminal or networked. As palimpsests and temporal assemblages of built form, communicative media, and ecological flow, cities are variously hailed as the solution to the global climate crisis or its deepest cause, the sites of concentrated ecological death or the wastelands from which new, even mutant, life can emerge. In the Anthropocene—the name given to our present era defined by a “great acceleration” of the production of waste combined with intensified human and non-human vulnerability to environmental change precipitated by that waste—cities evoke contrasting sentiments and political affinities. They also sit most exposed to the deepening uncertainties of environmental change, concentrating not just symbolic and economic functions—as “the urban” has been framed historically—but also vulnerabilities and violences. Cities place bodies in relations of collective dependence, but also expose them to heightened environmental and social risk, from extreme weather events to leaded water intake and industrial accidents. Taught by Dr. Asher Ghertner