Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation this set of projects interrogates the role of conflict in structuring urban space and experiences.

 
Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice
This course focuses on how language is a major force in shaping cities, both through a theoretical lens and through fieldwork in linguistically diverse neighborhoods throughout New York City.
   
About

This spring, the seminar will focus on the role of language as a structuring principle of cities, highlighting the ways that urban spaces and the world are physically shaped by linguistic diversity, and examining the results of languages coming into contact and conflict. For this work we will use New York City as our laboratory. The New York City metropolitan area is the most linguistically dense city in the world, hosting an estimated 700 different languages.

To better understand this diversity, we will look closely at micro-neighborhoods such as Little Senegal (Manhattan), Little Korea (Queens), and Little Ramallah (Paterson, New Jersey). In thinking about the transnational and translingual nature of the city, we will consider structures from digital technology to remittances (small amounts of money sent “home”) and their role in language preservation and language extinction. Finally, through visualizing and mapping how language is situated in these micro-neighborhoods, we will begin to explore the cultures, languages, informal structures and architectures that migrants bring to the city.

Methods

Our work will be, by necessity, multidisciplinary across history, architecture, politics, law, literature and linguistics as related to the topic of Conflict Urbanism. Our work will also be multi-media. Students will create a web-based map as well as written reflections, incorporating analogue as well as digital media. No previous technical skills are necessary, and professors will set individual guidelines for each student based on their disciplinary expertise.

Course Topics

Conflict Urbanism, Environmental Justice, Linguistic Human Rights, Transnationalism, Multilingual spaces and borders, Urban language politics

Tutorial Topics

Carto, QGIS, MapBox, Data types, creation, and cleaning

 
Laura Kurgan Speaks at SUPERHUMANITY TALKS at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennale

On October 20, 2016 Laura Kurgan spoke about the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project as part of SUPERHUMANITY TALKS, a panel event at the 3rd Istanbul Design Biennial presented by e-flux Architecture.

Laura Kurgan spoke about the Center for Spatial Research’s work on Conflict Urbanism Aleppo in relation to e-flux’s provocation:

Superhumanity aims to explore and challenge our understanding of “design” by probing the idea that we are and always have been continuously reshaped by the artifacts we shape, to which we ask: who designed the lives we live today? What are the forms of life we inhabit, and what new forms are currently being designed? Where are the sites, and what are the techniques, to design others?”

View the recording of the panel event. 

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Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo on view at 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale, Are We Human?

Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is on view at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale from October 22, 2016 to November 20, 2016. The Biennale is titled “Are We Human?” and presents projects that stretch “from the last 2 seconds to the last 200,000 years.”

Our exhibit is on view in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and presents two zooms from high-resolution satellite images of Aleppo at the scale of 1:1000. For every one unit of space in the gallery, the corresponding space in Aleppo is one thousand times larger. Visitors can also browse the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo interactive map and case studies including a case study on the “Time Scales of Aleppo” researched and written for the exhibition.

Exhibition photos by Sahir Ugur Eren.

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Conflict Urbanism: Colombia Recognized at Habitat III Conference in Quito

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia was named a winning entry of the CityVis Competition at the Habitat III conference in Quito. The competition was organized by University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam, Germany and the Future Earth Media Lab.

We are thrilled to have been selected as a winner!

Read more about the competition and the Visualizing Cities platform here

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Conflict Urbanism: Colombia at the Oslo Architecture Triennale

Our Conflict Urbanism: Colombia will be on view at the Oslo Architecture Triennale, After Belonging from September 8 to November 27, 2016. The project traces the trajectories of Colombians who have migrated between 1985 and 2016 as a result of the decades long conflict between state and non-state actors, which is hopefully nearing its end. After more than three years of negotiations between the government and the FARC, Colombian citizens might soon vote on a referendum to approve a historic peace accord between the two parties.

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Symposium on Conflict Urbanism Projects

To mark its inaugural year, The Center for Spatial Research will present its work on "conflict urbanism" in Aleppo, and Colombia. The event will engage participants in a discussion about the role of conflict in structuring urban space and the politics of representation in zones of discordance, disruption and violence as it contributes to the making and remaking of cities. Friday, October 7, 2016 at 1:30pm in Ware Lounge, Avery Hall.

Watch the recording of the event. 

The roundtable will feature Eyal Weizman, Professor of Spatial and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture and Enrico Bertini, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering as respondents to the work presented by CSR researchers and students: Laura KurganJuan Francisco SaldarriagaGrga BasicDare BrawleyViolet Whitney, and Michael Storm

The center point of Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is an interactive web-based map representing the intensifying violence in urban Aleppo after five years of civil war in Syria. The map combines layers of high-resolution satellite images together with data gathered from multiple perspectives and sources to show the historic city from 2012 to the present. Using the logic of a typical geographic information system (GIS) map, the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project overlaps these layers, as it explores two kinds of evidence: evidence about the physical destruction of the city and evidence about how urban warfare is tracked and monitored from a distance.

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia traces the trajectories of Colombians who were forcibly displaced between 1985 and 2016 as a result of the decades long conflict between state and non-state actors. The project visualizes conflict at the scale of the country through a single government-created dataset that will shape transitional justice efforts. The visualizations that have resulted reveal the paths of more than eight million people displaced by war while critically examining how this conflict has been recorded. Conflict Urbanism: Colombia is a collaboration with the Masters on Peacebuilding at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

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Project
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo
person role
Author(s): 
Laura Kurgan
Publication date: 
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Publication name, page number: 
Harvard Design Magazine
Description (optional): 
Almost five years after the start of the civil war in Syria, Aleppo is still under siege. At the time of writing, in February 2016, the few roads into and out of the city are blocked. What are believed to be Russian warplanes have been targeting rebel-held neighborhoods in an effort to help President Bashar al-Assad regain control of the city. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed or injured, and an estimated nine million people have been displaced. Our research on Aleppo focuses on the urban cost of the civil war, and what it implies for the city to which survivors might one day return.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
Almost five years after the start of the civil war in Syria, Aleppo is still under siege. At the time of writing, in February 2016, the few roads into and out of the city are blocked. What are believed to be Russian warplanes have been targeting rebel-held neighborhoods in an effort to help President Bashar al-Assad regain control of the city. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed or injured, and an estimated nine million people have been displaced. Our research on Aleppo focuses on the urban cost of the civil war, and what it implies for the city to which survivors might one day return.
Lead image: 
Author C4SR: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan
Publication short title (carousel): 
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo
Is Website?: 
no
Methods: 
dashboard_sort_date: 
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
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TUTORIAL
Conflict Urbanism: Colombia
Spatial analysis as a tool for transitional justice in Colombia.
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On the eve of an historic and controversial peace agreement in Colombia we have launched an investigation into the spatial characteristics of the decades long conflict between multiple state and non-state actors in the country. We have provisionally titled this research Conflict Urbanism: Colombia. Our work is still in the beginning phases. We have formed a relationship with the interdisciplinary M.A. Program in Peacebuilding at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá.

We aim to analyze and visualize the documented aspects of the conflict in Colombia in order to put forward policy recommendations for the transitional justice and peacebuilding process. These recommendations will be informed by rigorous mapping, spatial analysis, and in-depth research on the socio-historical context of the conflict. The project engages with existing efforts to construct diverse historical memory in transitional justice projects, especially those in Latin America, and at the same time brings new modes of visualizing violent conflict and its aftermath into discourses of truth and reconciliation. 

Origin and destination cities of more than 5,000 displaced people
Origin and destination cities of more than 5,000 displaced people
 Origin and destination cities of displaced people
Origin and destination cities of displaced people

Our initial maps look at internally displaced peoples in Colombia and their patterns of migration over the course of the conflict using data from the Registro Unico de Victimas. By spatially analyzing and visualizing data about the victims of the conflict - which wasn't collected for this purpose - we are helping build the historical memory of the country, and in doing so, contributing to the ongoing peacebuilding process. In these maps lines connect cities where people were displaced to the cities where they moved to. Often we can connect large displacements with specific historic events such as significant massacres, where such as in Bojayá in 2002 when a massacre caused nearly the entire town to relocate. 

Project Team
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Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo
An evolving and interdisciplinary study of urban damage in Aleppo, Syria.
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Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo is the first in a series of interrelated projects as part of our multi-year year research initiative on Conflict Urbanism.

In January 2016 we launched the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo interactive map, amidst intense violence in Aleppo more than five years after the start of the civil war in Syria. The map served as a research tool for the spring 2016 Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo seminar and as a new window into the conflict for the world at large. The map combines layers of high-resolution satellite images together with data gathered by human rights organizations and the UN to show the historic city from 2012 to the present. Using the logic of a typical geographic information system (GIS) map, the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project overlaps these layers, accruing two kinds of evidence: evidence about the physical destruction of the city and evidence about how urban warfare is tracked and monitored from a distance.

We are continuing to release additional case studies that shed light on the effects of the conflict on the urban fabric of Aleppo. We have combined several experimental methods in order to look at the conflict and the urban context of Aleppo in new ways: by cross referencing YouTube videos we have geocoded with bi-weekly change maps we created using low resolution and free Landsat satellite imagery we have been able to identify intense areas of damage on high resolution satellite images that have gone undocumented by the international human rights community, which uses other methods to look at these same high resolution satellite images. 

The project has been exhibited at the 2016 Istanbul Design Biennale (October 22- November 20, 2016) and has been the subject of several invited lectures and articles including in the Harvard Graduate School of Design Magazine, Architecture Design, and at the Unknown Unknowables conference in Copenhagen, and a Curating Data conference at Harvard. 

Project Team
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