Urban Activism: Staking Claims in the 21st Century City


Thursday, September 12, 2019 (All day) to Saturday, September 14, 2019 (All day)


Thompson Room, Barker Center, 12 Quincy St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Urban Activism imageThe Center for African Studies, Dept of Anthropology, Dept of History, Center for History & Economics, CMES, DRCLAS, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, & WCFIA present

Urban Activism: Staking Claims in the 21st Century City
This conference emerges from the shared need to create a collective discourse on how critical urban research and urban political activism are increasingly converging and creating a common field of inquiry and action. It connects scholars in various fields such as planners, geographers, historians, and critical urbanists with activists working on housing rights and the right to urban identity and the city more generally.

Together, we will discuss a number of theoretical, methodological, and practical questions, including: How shall communities and activists be involved in the production of knowledge? What constitutes the archive and evidence? What possibilities are there to disseminate the knowledge produced? Can scholarship suggest political solutions? Who are the agents of this story? What is the relationship between the state and the market in displacement processes? Can we think beyond the framework of structure and agency? How does ideology make its way into research and action? What is the appropriate scale of analysis?

A consideration of cities as different as Beirut, Istanbul, Athens, Barcelona, Johannesburg, São Paulo, and Boston sheds light on commonalities that point to a single dynamic operating on a global scale, which is at play in the various distinctive manifestations apprehended at the local level in very different contexts. While a consideration of global, structural transformation can contribute to an understanding of the specificities of every case, the global phenomenon itself cannot be fully captured without a serious engagement on the local scale with the social, cultural, economic and political processes in which each specific case is embedded. A global understanding can only contribute to local struggles if it remains attentive to the subjectivity of local communities within their particular context as they experience and think it.

Organizers: Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe (Univ of Basel), Joan Chaker (Harvard), and Stefano Portelli (Harvard)

Speakers will include: Yaşar Adnan Adanalı, Sai Balakrishnan, Nadine Bekdache, Diana Bell Sancho, Welita Caetano & Manuel Moruzzi, Joan Chaker, Mindy Fullilove, Michael Herzfeld, Cemal Kafadar, Loretta Lees, Erin M. B. McElroy, Steve Meacham, Dominic Moulden, Lisa Owens, Stefano Portelli, Abir Saksouk, Aleksandar Shopov, Stavros Stavrides, Aylin Yildirim Tschoepe, and S’bu Zikode.

For a full conference program, list of speakers and abstracts, please visit the conference website: https://urbanactivism2019.org.

Co-sponsors: Center for African Studies, Department of Anthology, Department of History, Center for History & Economics, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
Contact: Aylin Yildirim TschoepeJoan Chaker, Stefano Portelli