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228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall 

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Urban Studies

urban studies working group

Organizers: David Pike and Malini Ranganathan

How are today’s cities portrayed in popular and visual culture? How can humanities-based approaches bolster our understanding of everyday urban life, urban planning, and urban texts? The Urban Studies working group will focus on the discourses, imaginaries, and cultures of cities through a global, theoretical, and interdisciplinary perspective. In Spring 2016, the group will focus on visuality and urban studies.

Spring 2016: 

1) We will read and discuss a selection of texts on visuality and urban studies, led by Jordanna Matlon. 

2) We will plan an event out in DC, also related to visuality.




Spring 2016

Please join us for the first Spring '16 meeting of the Urban Studies Working Group of the Humanities Lab at AU on Tuesday, February 23 from 12-2pm in 228 Battelle-Tompkins (the location of the Humanities Lab workspace on campus). The theme will be Visuality and the City: The Dialectics of Race and SpaceWe will begin our meeting by discussing two articles (attached) that examine visual culture and urban life, and draw on blackness as a social and aesthetic category. We are very fortunate to have both authors, Jordanna Matlon (SIS) and Brandi Thompson Summers (Viriginia Commonwealth University), present to moderate the conversation. We encourage participants to share ideas about their works in progress.


Dr. Matlon and Dr. Summers are both urban sociologists whose research employs visual methods in quite distant contexts: Matlon's research is in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, and Dr. Summers examines Washington, DC. Matlon is currently teaching two courses at SIS: Visuality in Africa and The Postcolonial City. Her article is titled "'Il est garçon': marginal Abidjanais masculinity and the politics of representation." Summers teaches in the Department of African American Studies at VCU and a version of her article, "H Street and the aesthetics of cool," also appears in the new book "Capital Dilemma: Growth and Inequality in Washington, DC" edited by Derek Hyra (SPA) and Sabhiya Prince. 

We have attached a bonus optional article as well, "Harrowed landscapes: white ruingazers in Nambia and Detroit and the cultivation of memory" by George Steinmetz. 

The readings can be accessed below. Please come prepared to discuss. 

Il est garçon': marginal Abidjanais masculinity and the politics of representation by Jordanna Matlon

H Street and the aesthetics of cool by Brandi Thompson Summers

Harrowed landscapes: white ruingazers in Nambia and Detroit and the cultivation of memory by George Steinmetz

We are ordering a light lunch for participants, so kindly RSVP by sending an email to Elizabeth Bersin by February 16th.

Fall 2015

November 17, 5:30: An informal discussion with Liza Weinstein following her talk on Dharavi at the Metropolitan Studies Center.


Interested in Joining?
Email David Pike or Malini Ranganathan  

Find out more here