Cities, Infrastructures, and Politics: From Renaissance to Smart Technologies

Infrastructures play a decisive role in urban development and in the life of cities. This course will envisage this role from a historical perspective. History proves especially useful when dealing with the political dimension of urban infrastructures. From fortifications to smart technologies, infrastructures are inseparable from political intentions and consequences. This political dimension will constitute one of the threads of this lecture course. Other themes dealt with in the course will include the relation between cities and their hinterland, the progressive dematerialization of infrastructures, from walls or bridges to the invisible electronic networks that organize contemporary urban life, the rise of environmental concerns and their impact on infrastructural thoughts and practices, the need to conceive differently infrastructures when dealing with informal settlements.

Topics will include:

  • Urban Infrastructure and Politics. A Theoretical and Empirical Challenge.
  • Infrastructures for War: Urban Fortification and its Evolution.
  • Cartography as Infrastructure.
  • Cities and the Transportation Revolution.
  • The Rise of the 19th-Century Networked City.
  • From Haussmannian Paris to the High Line in New York: An Infrastructural Nature.
  • Technology, Infrastructure and the Urban Experience: The Case of Electricity
  • "Aerocity:" Planes, Airports and Urban Development.
  • Rationalization Doctrines and Urban Planning from Scientific Management to System Theory.
  • Infrastructure and Urban Modernization in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
  • Infrastructures for Tourism.
  • Urban Metabolism and Infrastructure: Towards the Sustainable City.
  • Smart Cities: A Self-Fulfilling Ideal.
  • The contemporary crisis of networks.
  • Development, infrastructure and politics.

Evaluation will take into account participation to the class discussions. Students will be asked to produce a final paper on a topic related to the course.