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Race, Resistance & Urban Space

Structural inequalities are embedded into the landscape of cities. Who lives where, what access residents have to resources, and who experiences excessive policing are spatial circumstances that are deeply racialized. In this course we will explore how race informs urban space by thinking through contemporary issues such as gentrification, incarceration and policing, and housing access.

We will think intersectionally to reveal how cultural production, protest, and social organizing shape cities and envision more-just futures. We will look to academic and creative texts, as well as toward moments of political organizing in cities to build an understanding of how cities are racialized, gendered, and always being contested.

Some questions we explore throughout the semester are:

  • How does the erasure and dispossession of Indigenous peoples facilitate the development of cities?

  • How have Black and migrant communities been continually devalued across North America, fueling the dispossession of their homes over time?

  • How does gentrification stem from these longer histories of dispossession and what forms does gentrification take?

  • How has mass incarceration become normalized over the last 50 years and how is the prison industrial complex used to ‘solve’ urban problems?

  • How do social movements respond to urban problems and what radical futures are being built in cities across the continent?




Geographies of Conquest & Liberation 

In the past decade, global struggles for abolition, decolonization and liberation have gained significant momentum. In this course, we will turn to texts of conquest and liberation to make sense of our global interrelations under empire and how these conditions shape the terrain for present liberatory struggles. 


We will consider how anti-colonial theorists articulate and theorize space and liberation amid the conditions of empire, delving into the genealogies of Black and Indigenous Studies in particular, and reading their work thoroughly to unpack their theoretical and grounded contributions. Threading these genealogies of anti-colonial thought into relation with one another, we will consider how empire and conquest have fomented spatial relations across the globe and produced the conditions for mass economic and racialized dispossession. It is from within these theorizations of conquest that we will ultimately consider the moment of crisis we are collectively living, and the possibilities of abolitionist and decolonial movements.

Art, Climate Change & Urban Life

Climate change is a defining issue of this generation, and yet while we are increasingly experiencing the effects of climate change around the world, it remains a looming specter. This course builds an intersectional and structural understanding of climate change, while exploring how art activates the intangibility of climate change, making it visible, visceral, and political.

We will examine how colonialism and racial capitalism produce climate change inequities, and how the climate justice movement reveals and combats these inequities through creative cultural practices. This course undertakes this exploration in three parts: first, by engaging with the cities of New Orleans and San Juan, to understand how climate catastrophe aggravates existing inequalities, and how residents creatively respond to disaster.Second, by considering how art serves as a form of politics and how it is taken up in social movements to provoke shifts in political consciousness. Lastly, by engaging with art forms that address climate change, with a particular focus on those that centralize the experiences of populations most at risk of climate catastrophe. These art forms call attention to who bears the disproportionate burden of climatic shift, which geographies are most at risk, and how these creative interpretations envision climate futures. 

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