Posted on December 11, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research, with the Office of the Dean of Humanities, invites Columbia University faculty and doctoral candidates to participate in Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Institute: May 28 – June 6, 2019. Applications are due by January 31, 2019.

Mapping for the Urban Humanities is a six day skills-building workshop in critical cartography, designed to expand the disciplinary locations within which spatial knowledge in the urban humanities is produced and interpreted. Workshop participants will be introduced to open-source mapping software, QGIS, to methods of data collection and creation, and to approaches and concepts in critical spatial analysis that they can incorporate into their research and teaching. Participation is free; space is limited. The workshop is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Eligibility: This course is open to full and part-time faculty, research scholars and doctoral candidates from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and Barnard College.

How to Apply: Interested faculty and doctoral candidates should apply by sending the following materials to by January 31, 2019.

  • 1-2 page statement that describes your interest in taking the institute, and includes a description of the course or research topic you hope to workshop during the summer intensive.
  • CV

Structure of the workshop: The Summer 2019 session will be held from May 28 – June 3, from 10:00am – 5:30pm with a final roundtable project review on June 6 from 1pm – 4:30pm.

More information about the course, including materials from prior iterations of the institute, is available here.

If you have questions about your eligibility or about whether your course or research project is a good fit for the institute, please reach out to Dare Brawley ( at the Center for Spatial Research.

Posted on November 27, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

Palaces for the People

Tuesday, November 27, 5:30pm
The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room
Book launch event with Eric Kleinenberg, Professor of Sociology, New York University

Responses by: 
Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
Shamus Khan, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University
Kate Orff, Associate Professor & Director, Urban Design Program, Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

We are living in a time of deep divisions. Americans are sorting themselves along racial, religious, and cultural lines, leading to a level of polarization that the country hasn’t seen since the Civil War. Pundits and politicians are calling for us to come together, to find common purpose. But how, exactly, can this be done?
In Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg suggests a way forward. He believes that the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, bookstores, churches, synagogues, and parks where crucial, sometimes life-saving connections, are formed. These are places where people gather and linger, making friends across group lines and strengthening the entire community. Klinenberg calls this the “social infrastructure”: When it is strong, neighborhoods flourish; when it is neglected, as it has been in recent years, families and individuals must fend for themselves.

Organized by Sharon Marcus, Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature. Sponsored by: The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, Public Books, Columbia University Libraries, Department of English and Comparative Language, Department of Sociology, The Urban Design Program, Center for Spatial Research.

Posted on November 9, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research
Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017, following Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico National Guard photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

Unnatural Disaster:
Infrastructure in Puerto Rico before, during, and after Hurricane Maria

Friday, November 9, 1pm 

114 Avery Hall

Ivis Garcia Zambrana, The University of Utah
Marcelo López-Dinardi (’13 MSCCP), Texas A&M University
Mark Martin Bras, Vieques Conservation & Historical Trust
Andrés Mignucci, University of Puerto Rico
Ingrid Olivo, GIZ Sustainable Intermediate Cities Program
In conversation with Hiba Bou Akar, GSAPP, and Monxo López, Hunter College

In January of 2018, four months after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced a plan to privatize the US territory’s publicly owned power utility (PREPA). This action—exposing infrastructure at the convergence of colonialism, finance, and 150 mile-per-hour winds—came as no surprise to those who have been paying attention. Nonetheless, its implications are sure to be felt well beyond the thousands of residents who remained without power months after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Rosselló’s more recent push to commence privatization of the island’s public school system emphatically echoes and underscores these facts. While many fields are involved in addressing the current crisis on the island, we believe a more focused, historically informed conversation on the roles of architecture, planning, and preservation in both the production and management of these ever-more-frequent emergencies—especially as they pertain to infrastructure—is warranted.

Co-organized by Columbia GSAPP Urban Planning, Urban Design, and Historic Preservation Programs, the Center for Spatial Research, and the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, in conjunction with the Buell Center’s “Power: Infrastructure in America” research initiative, which considers infrastructural systems and processes as sites of sociotechnical and ecological governmentality at the intersection of neoliberalism and nationalism.

Free and open to the public.

Photo: Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2017, following Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico National Guard photo by Sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos

Posted on October 22, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research
Artist Ahmed Mater in his studio.

Ahmed Mater: An Artist's Lens on Mecca


The lecture "Ahmed Mater: An Artist's Lens on Mecca" and reception scheduled for Monday, October 22, as part of the series “Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures," will not take place. We will seek to find another time in the near future that is more conducive to the academic dialogue on campus that is the purpose of the lecture.


Monday, October 22, 2018, 6-8pm 
612 Schermerhorn Hall
Columbia University
1180 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY

Reception to follow in the Stronach Center.

Renowned Saudi artist Ahmed Mater will talk about his documentation of a changing Mecca through his photography and video work. His art explores apparent contradictions embedded within this site between the holy and profane, historicity and eternal time, spaces of worship and sites of real estate speculation.

The sacred and holy space of Mecca called in Arabic haram denotes the act of forbidding, and excluding, and thus implies the apparent human faculty of defining spaces and setting borders between the holy and the profane. While the sacred space usually appears as totally autonomous and linked to the eternal, the profane zone seems to exist as bound to and dependent on historical time. This supposition results in assigning terms such as common, habitual, and ephemeral to historic times, as opposed to pure and intact designating the ‘Holy’ to everlasting time. But both spaces were and are constrained to historical time. Though aiming at iconicity, Mecca’s haram visions have history too.

Mater’s presentation will be followed by a conversation with Dr. Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor of the History of the Arts of Islam at Columbia University.

The event is organized by the Center for Spatial Research and the Art History and Archaeology Department at Columbia University with the support and help of the Middle East Institute, Columbia University and Middle East Institute at Washington DC. This event is part of the Arab Art and Education Initiative, a year-long collaboration between more than 15 leading New York and Arab world cultural institutions, seeking to build greater understanding between the United States and the Arab world.

Posted on October 5, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

Spaces of Exception

Friday, October 5, 6:30 PM
Barnard Hall, James Room
Barnard College
3009 Broadway, New York, NY

Saturday, October 6, 11 AM - 7 PM
Diana Center, Room 504
Barnard College
3009 Broadway, New York, NY

We invite you to the launch of an event of Geographies of Injustice, a working group of interdisciplinary scholars interested in asking how spatial politics intersects with inequality and social difference (race, caste, gender, and ethnicity). 

Please join us on the evening of Friday, Oct. 5th, with a keynote conversation between Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy on the politics of dispossession in Brazil and India. On Saturday, Oct. 6th, we will start with a closed-door workshop with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy on their keynotes the previous evening; later, we will host a conversation between New York City Council member Ritchie Torres and Emmy Award-winning journalist Janus Adams, followed by talks by Professor Vivek Bald and artist/cultural strategist Ebony Noelle Golden. See below for full schedule and details.

**Note please RSVP if you wish to attend the brunch and closed workshop with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy portion of the event on Saturday, October 6th. 


October 5th (6:30-8pm)

Opening Remarks by Sarah Cole, Dean of Humanities, and Marianne Hirsch, Director of the Center for the Study of Social Difference.
Keynote conversation on with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy.

October 6th (11am-6pm)
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Brunch/Discussion
Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy in discussion with workshop participants about their keynote. Moderated by Tony Samara.
**Note please RSVP if you wish to attend the brunch and closed workshop with Denise Ferreira da Silva and Priti Ramamurthy
2:00 – 2:30 PM Coffee Break

Housing Justice
2:30 – 4:00 PM Emmy Award - winning Journalist Janus Adams in conversation with Richie Torres (NYC District 15 Council Member).

4:00 – 5:00 PM Vivek Bald, "In Search of Bengali Harlem"
5:15 – 6:25 PM Ebony Noelle Golden, "125th & Freedom: Cultivating Cultural Resilience in Face of Erasure"

Posted on September 6, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

Information Session Thursday, September 6, 2018 5-6pm 654 Schermerhorn Extension

Come help us celebrate the start of our fourth year at the Center for Spatial Research!

Meet core researchers and students. Learn about a new project and collaboration focused on mapping historical New York City. View recent projects and exhibitions. Learn how you can get involved in our courses and projects. Information about internship opportunities for the fall and spring semesters will be available.

Light refreshments will be served.

Posted on September 4, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research is seeking student assistants for the Fall 2018 semester.

Students will be responsible for data analysis, visualization, map design, and will support research on projects dealing with our current research focus: conflict urbanism. Students will work extensively with spatial data including mining and analyzing data, processing and collecting data, and/or visualizing data in compelling and innovative ways. Working in close collaboration with principal investigators, students will produce work for inclusion in papers, multi-media projects, and exhibitions.

Candidates must have experience with GIS and Adobe Creative Suite. In addition, please let us know if you have experience with any of the following tools: Processing, Python, D3, R, APIs, Microsoft Access, SQL, Stata/SPSS, HTML, CSS, and Javascript.

We are seeking candidates who have experience with computational tools but are also eager to acquire additional skills through the course of their work with us. CSR researchers will mentor successful candidates and match them with projects which help them build additional fluencies with computational methods.

Positions are 10-15 hours per week. Hours are negotiated on a per-student basis. All positions are $16/hour. Please note positions are only available for continuing Columbia University students.

Please send a letter of interest, CV, and relevant work examples to

Applications due September 14, 2018, materials will be reviewed in the order there are received. 

Posted on May 26, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research
Image still from In Plain Sight

In Plain Sight, a collaboration between Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, and Robert Gerard Pietrusko with the Center for Spatial Research, will open on May 26, 2018 in Venice, Italy.

The installation is conceived and designed for Dimensions of Citizenship, the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago. The installation will be on view through November 25.

In Plain Sight presents anomalies in population distribution seen in nighttime satellite imagery of Earth and census grid counts produced by governments worldwide — revealing places with bright lights and no people and places with people and no lights—thus, challenging our assumptions about geographies of belonging and exclusion.

Several events are planned during the opening weekend, May 24-27, featuring project collaborators Laura Kurgan, Elizabeth Diller, Robert Pietrusko. See the full schedule of events on the Dimensions of Citizenship website here.

Posted on April 12, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research
Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Thursday, April 12, 2018
6:30-8:30pm, followed by a reception
2911 Broadway
A conversation on climate and catastrophe with Solomon Hsiang, University of California, Berkley and Saskia Sassen, Columbia University

Friday, April 13, 2018
2911 Broadway
All day conference.

Full schedule and link to registration is available here.

The Center is pleased to support the Initiative on Extreme Weather & Climate as they present: Urban Floods: Interdisciplinary Perspectives.

This unique conference seeks to bridge the gap between physical scientists – who draw on physical observations, quantitative data analysis, computer simulation, and visualization – and social scientists and humanists who focus on participant observation, case studies, and other interpretive methods.

Our focus for this conference is the relationship between physical development choices and environmental risk, with specific focus on large-scale urban floods.

This one-day conference will address major urban floods, past, present and future. The goal is to understand these events in as holistic a way as possible, considering scientific and humanist questions together, and informed by historical context. We will focus on global linkages between extreme weather events, with a focus on South Asia and the United States. We ask how these disasters reflect the confluence of urban development decisions, natural climate variability, and human-induced climate change. What are the relative roles of urban development decisions, e.g., reclamation, zoning, patterns of land use and urbanization, natural climate variability, and human-induced climate change? How does scientific knowledge and risk get translated and how does the answer depend on where we are in the world and the historical context of local priorities? What do these events of the recent past teach us about the future, when these cities will be increasingly encroached upon by rising seas?

The conference is envisioned as the first in a series on the theme of Science and Global Urbanism organized through the Center for Science and Society, and the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate.

Supported by ISERP with co-sponsorship by Center for the Study of Social Difference, the Center for Spatial Research, and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.

Full schedule and link to registration is available here.

Posted on April 5, 2018 by Center for Spatial Research

The Art of Storytelling
Thursday, April 5, 2018, 10:00am-2:30pm
Davis Auditorium, Shapiro Hall

The Center is pleased to co-sponsor The Art of Storytelling, a half-day conference on data visualization convened by the Columbia University Libraries.

“We are almost two decades into the 21st Century and living in a dense forest of information.  Making our way through means filtering and processing vast quantities of tangled and interconnected data, and in order to do this successfully, we must be able to see the information in meaningful ways, to be understood and shared with others. Ultimately, we must do what we've done for millennia -- we must tell stories.”

Full program and registration is available here.