Conflict Urbanism as a term designates not simply that conflict that take place in cities, but also that conflict is a structuring principle of cities, as a way of inhabiting and creating urban space. The theme is topical in light of the increasing urbanization of warfare and the policing and surveillance of everyday life, however, conflict is not limited to war and violence. Cities are not only destroyed but also built through conflict. This seminar looks at the ways in which cities have long been arenas of friction, difference, and dissidence, as well as the ways in which their irreducibly conflictual character manifests itself in everything from neighborhood borders, to differences of opinion and status, to ordinary encounters on the street. Student work in Conflict Urbanism takes place through a single city or by comparing a series of cities examining the role conflicts of all sorts play in the making and remaking of cities around the world. Conflicts can (and should) be investigated with maps and data, but they often turn out to be propelled or propagated by them as well. Bringing humanistic inquiry together with spatial data and basic mapping techniques will allow us to produce powerful representations as well as challenge conventional narratives of cities and conflict today. Cities are “seen” through a number of lenses including: mass incarceration, infrapolitics, urbanization of war, language ecology, migration(political, economic and climate), debt, algorithms and surveillance.

This website collects student work completed during the spring 2022 seminar which was taught by Laura Kurgan, with Teaching Assistant Adam Vosburgh.
Many students enrolled in the course took Methods in Spatial Research as a corequisite introduction to techniques and theories of critical GIS.