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ANG 6286 The Urban Reality

Dr. Heckenberger

What is the city, or urbanism?  What variation in urban form, content, or history can be delineated across time and space?  What differences can be inferred between cities and urbanized populations – lived worlds, built environments, and representations of urban life – in the contemporary world.  The course reviews materials from pre-modern (pre-colonial and early colonial, to 1700), modern (early industrial to late 20th century) and post- or neo-modern urban contexts.  Case materials are drawn from across the globe.  It contrasts public urban life from the top down view of planners, politicians and patricians, elite social groups and institutions with the bottom up view, representing diverse subaltern urban groups and lived realities.  It also considers the middle ground, where the two extremes of urban society meet and interact, often promoting novelty and creating hybrid institutions, norms, and practices, often in highly dynamic, even volatile and fragmented contexts where norms vary and are contested.  The course focuses on the social and political construction of urban space, the control and orientation of human bodies, body movement, and bodily distributions, emphasizing the physicality and materiality of urban built environment and landscape.  Urban space reflects both social integration and contestation between groups and identities, and inclusionary and exclusionary practices in urban planning and development, and representations of cities and city-dwellers in popular media.  We consider the nature and relationship of urban subgroups, with respect to key features of urbanism, such as central place and countryside (urban-rural/peasant), functional, social, and political economic organization, notably heterogeneity and segregation, as well as integration, and design and planning.  The urban built environment is explored as a means of analyzing differences in space, practice, and experience of different social groups, including marginalized, middle, and elite groups.