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Fri, Feb 9, 2018 9:30am –

Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall

Columbia GSAPP

Conference: Ways of Knowing Cities

Technology increasingly mediates the way that knowledge, power, and culture interact to create and transform the cities we live in. Ways of Knowing Cities is a one-day conference which brings together leading scholars and practitioners from across multiple disciplines to consider the role that technologies have played in changing how urban spaces and social life are structured and understood – both historically and in the present moment.

Simone Brown, Department of African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Maribel Casas-Cortes, Department of Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Wendy Chun, Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
Sebastian Cobarrubias, International Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Orit Halpern, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University
Charles Heller, Forensic Oceanography, Goldsmiths, University of London
Shannon Mattern, School of Media Studies, The New School
Mitch McEwen, School of Architecture, Princeton University
Leah Meisterlin, Department of Urban Planning, Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Nontsikelelo Mutiti, New Media, State University of New York at Purchase
Trevor Paglen, Visual Artist
Lorenzo Pezzani, Forensic Oceanography, Goldsmiths, University of London Robert Pietrusko, Departments of Landscape Architecture and Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Dietmar Offenhuber, Departments of Art + Design and Public Policy, Northeastern University
Anita Say Chan, Department of Media and Cinema Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Matthew Wilson, Department of Geography, University of Kentucky


From John Snow’s cholera maps of London and the design of the radio network in Colonial Nigeria to NASA’s composite images of global night lights, the way the city and its inhabitants have been comprehended in moments of technological change has always been deeply political. Representations of the urban have been sites of contestation and violence, but have also enabled spaces of resistance and delight. Our cities have been built and transformed through conflict, and the struggle is as much informational and representational as it is physical and bodily. Today, the generation and deployment of data is at the forefront of projects to reshape our cities, for better and for worse. As a consequence, responding to urban change demands critical literacy in technology, and particularly data technologies. The conference addresses itself to the deep ambivalence of interventions in the urban, as it explores the ways that knowledge regimes have impacted the built world. In this sense, it seeks to catalyze more robust, creative, and far-reaching ways to think about the relationship between the urban and the information systems that enable, engage and express the city.