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

 
Mapathon for Puerto Rico featured in New York Times
Photo credit: Caitlin Ochs for The New York Times

The New York Times features the mapathon organized by the Columbia's Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities and the Columbia Libraries with the support from CSR Researcher, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga and CSR steering committe member Manan Ahmed. Over sixty students, faculty, and staff gathered on Friday, September 29 to map the hardest hit rural areas of Puerto Rico using OpenStreetMap. 

Read the full article here

 

 

 

 

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Conflict Urbanism: InfraPolitics
This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. 
   
Description

This seminar focuses on infrastructure as a major force in shaping cities, as well as a medium through which the politics of urbanization is visible. Our work will address historical comparison and the politics of mapping by focusing on three cities and three continents – Mumbai, Johannesburg and Medellin.

The cities have been chosen because they offer important ways to think about how infrastructure organizes social life, and its ongoing political effects. By exploring different histories of how space is governed, segregated, or utilized as a key economic resource, we want seminar participants to think about the significance of space and spatial regulation in structuring social relations.

Our work will be organized around a set of keywords: informality (Mumbai), apartheid (Johannesburg), and populism (Medellin)--that are entry points for thinking about the infrastructure of inequality. Each of the case studies uses a critical event as a point of entry for asking how land, capital, government, and the social relations of daily life structure, and are in turn structured by spatial order.

Visualizing and mapping thus form key techniques for linking urban history with contemporary urbanism, and for thinking about the materiality of spatial politics.

Note: This is the third in a series of multidisciplinary Mellon seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, as part of a multi-university initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities.    

This year Conflict Urbanism is being offered in the Fall, and not in the Spring semester.

 
Project
Visualizing the Victims of the Colombian Conflict
person role
Author(s): 
Juan Francisco Saldarriaga
Publication date: 
Friday, March 10, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
Yuca
Description (optional): 
This article published by Yuca magazine describes the Conflict Urbanism: Colombia project. In it, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga describes how, having grown up in Colombia, working on this project has changed his understanding of the conflict. The article describes the maps, graphs, color pixels, and thickening lines that have shown the size and magnitude of the worst massacres, revealed the moments and events that caused stakeholders to change positions, and made evident the constant and painful journeys of the displaced and other victims.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This article published by Yuca magazine describes the Conflict Urbanism: Colombia project. In it, Juan Francisco Saldarriaga describes how, having grown up in Colombia, working on this project has changed his understanding of the conflict. The article describes the maps, graphs, color pixels, and thickening lines that have shown the size and magnitude of the worst massacres, revealed the moments and events that caused stakeholders to change positions, and made evident the constant and painful journeys of the displaced and other victims.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Saldarriaga
Publication short title (carousel): 
Visualizing the Victims of the Colombian Conflict
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Friday, March 10, 2017
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Project
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
person role
Author(s): 
Laura Kurgan
Publication date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
AD / Architectural Design
Description (optional): 
One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo. In this article, Laura Kurgan discusses the initiative and its sometimes puzzling findings.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
In this article for Architectural Design, Laura Kurgan discusses the Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo project and its sometimes puzzling findings. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet, Aleppo now lies in tatters. This devastation of a designated World Heritage Site is a poignant example of the human and cultural cost of armed conflict – in this case the Syrian Civil War. The Center for Spatial Research has analyzed satellite imagery and reports from the ground to assess the damage in Aleppo.
Lead image: 
Author C4SR: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan
Publication short title (carousel): 
Conflict Urbanism, Aleppo: Mapping Urban Damage
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Sunday, January 1, 2017
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Project
Visualizing Conflict: Possibilities for Urban Research
person role
Author(s): 
Juan Francisco Saldarriaga, Laura Kurgan, Dare Brawley
Publication date: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Publication name, page number: 
Urban Planning
Description (optional): 
The Center for Spatial Research (CSR) is undertaking a multiyear project investigating what we have termed Conflict Urbanism. The term designates not simply the conflicts that take place in cities, but also conflict as a structuring principle of cities intrinsically, as a way of inhabiting and creating urban space. The increasing urbanization of warfare are examples of the term but conflict is not limited to war and violence. Cities are not only destroyed but also built through conflict. They have long been arenas of friction, difference, and dissidence, and their irreducibly conflictual character manifests itself in everything from neighborhood borders, to differences of opinion and status, to ordinary encounters on the street. This article discusses two projects currently under way at CSR that use mapping and data visualization to explore and analyze Conflict Urbanism in two different contexts: the city of Aleppo, and the nation of Colombia.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
This article, published by the open access journal Urban Planning, outlines recent work as part of the multiyear Conflict Urbanism project. This article discusses two projects currently under way that use mapping and data visualization to explore and analyze Conflict Urbanism in two different contexts: the city of Aleppo, and the nation of Colombia. Both projects interrogate the world of ‘big data,’ as a means to open up new areas of research and inquiry, but with a particular focus on data literacy as an essential part of communicating with these new forms of urban information.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Saldarriaga, Kurgan, Brawley
Publication short title (carousel): 
Visualizing Conflict: Possibilities for Urban Research
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
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Spring 2017 Lecture Series: Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice

Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice Lecture Series

Please join us this spring for “Conflict Urbanism: Language Justice.” This public lecture series aims to explore the role of language in structuring cities, bringing together speakers to address the ways that urban spaces and their digital traces are physically shaped by linguistic diversity, and to examine the results of languages coming into contact and conflict. It is running in conjunction with a graduate-level seminar of the same title.  Cosponsored by the Center for Spatial Research and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
 
February 16, 6:30 pm
Understanding the Long Tail of Linguistic Diversity in New York City​
Daniel Kaufman, Endangered Languages Alliance and Queens College, CUNY
Ware Lounge, Avery Hall
 
February 23, 6 pm
‘Together We Can Create a Freer Future’: Digital Language Activism, Challenging and Reproducing Hegemonies
Ana Deumert, University of Cape Town
Kent Lounge, 403 Kent Hall
 
March 10, 11am
Language Traffic: Translating Across Urban Space
Sherry Simon, Concordia University
Ware Lounge

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Project
Conflict Urbanism: Colombia
person role
Author(s): 
Laura Kurgan, Juan Saldarriaga, Angelika Rettberg
Publication date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Publication name, page number: 
After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit
Description (optional): 
Over the course of the last thirty years, more than 7 million Colombians have left their homes and towns in a search for safety. In this project we plot the trajectories of these Colombians in conflict. This mass migration, with its dense network of specific and often hyper-local causes, forms one part of the much larger global story of human beings on the move, mostly from countryside to city. But this movement of people also underlines the fact that the massive urbanization of the planet is born out of conflict. This article about our contribution to the 2016 Oslo Architectural Triennale was published in the exhibition’s catalog, After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit.
Initiative: 
Intro text (homepage): 
Over the course of the last thirty years, more than 7 million Colombians have left their homes and towns in a search for safety. In this project we plot the trajectories of these Colombians in conflict. This article about our contribution to the 2016 Oslo Architectural Triennale was published in the exhibition’s catalog, After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces, and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit.
Lead image: 
Author Last Names for table: 
Kurgan, Saldarriaga, Rettberg
Publication short title (carousel): 
Conflict Urbanism: Colombia
Is Website?: 
no
dashboard_sort_date: 
Thursday, September 15, 2016
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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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