Postponed from May due to COVID-19. The global city and the nature of the urban: Anthropological perspectives, Prof. Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Prof. Knut Mikjel Rio, UiB
In this course, we will look closely at cities as a global phenomenon and explore the nature of the urban from a range of anthropological perspectives. How is it possible to grapple with the complexity of urban sociality?
With now 50 per cent of the world’s population living in urban settings and the numbers increasing with what has been called the rise of ‘planetary urbanism’, there is a need to recognise that the urban is to some extents a new social phenomenon.
This course will deal with a division between centrist notions of ‘the city’ and other approaches emphasising heterogenous and mutating urban, suburban and peri-urban forms.
There are perspectives in anthropology that highlight the city’s multidimensional potential—for open-source architecture, broad-based citizen-led initiatives, forms of collective occupation and redefinition (spatial, symbolic, artistic), or as the very context in which forms of utopian longing is instantiated. We will also be interested in how the urban is a locus for rampant gentrification and financialisation, and as domains for the exercise of statecraft, including violence and exclusion, often under the guise of security. Furthermore the course will also emphasise how urban orders transcend being merely spatial containers or demarcations for human activity, but are also sites for imaginaries, loci for politics and, in short, constitute laboratories for present and future human formation.
Drawing on these and a number of other perspectives, in this course we therefore invite PhD students in anthropology to consider what the conceptual, analytical, ethnographic or theoretical status of the city and the urban is from the vantage points of their distinct research projects. The aim is for the course to generate broader understandings of how one, as an anthropologist, can engage and open up the understanding of the urban at a global level.