Urban Theory Lab Research Seminar

In the early 1970s, Henri Lefebvre anticipated a situation of "generalized urbanization" in which an "urban fabric" would be extended to encompass the entire planet.  More recently, geographer Edward Soja declared that "every square inch of the world is urbanized to some degree."  While the changing morphology and scale of urbanized regions has attracted considerable attention among urban scholars, the worldwide "urban fabric" postulated by Lefebvre and Soja remains underresearched and poorly understood.  Building on a theoretical framework that is now under development in the Urban Theory Lab-GSD, this research seminar will test the Lefebvre-Soja hypothesis of complete urbanization with reference to five "extreme territories" that are normally not considered to contain urban elements–the Himalayas, the Amazon, the Arctic, the Gobi desert and the Pacific Ocean.  Following some introductory readings to establish a shared analytical framework, the seminar will be organized as a research studio in which five pairs of students follow a common theoretical, representational and methodological protocol to investigate one of the aforementioned zones.  The seminar is the first in a multi-year series that will result in a UTL publication on planetary urbanization.  Enrollment is limited and at the instructor\’s discretion.  Interested students should email [email protected] (subject line:  "UTL seminar application) and request a short text by Neil Brenner and Christian Schmid, "Planetary urbanization."  After reading this text, please send a second message to the same email address, including (a) a one-paragraph email summarizing your interest in the course; (b) your GSD program affiliation; and (c) any relevant preparatory work and other qualifications (please include any relevant skills in the visualization of geospatial data). Those accepted into this seminar will have two ballots rather than three for the limited enrollment lottery.