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Urban Beyond Measure: Registering Urban Environments in the Global South

The processes of urbanization in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America are occurring at the fastest rates in human history. In the context of new cities, ‘megacities’, informal and illegal cities, what people think of as cities—our assumptions about how they develop, what they look like, what they provide and how—is changing in response. However, there are limits to our methods and theories in understanding these emergent cities. The registers we use to map, measure and code the city into intelligible data only capture certain aspects. In many regards, our scientific means of framing the city and how it is changing is in a process of catching up, leaving us with a sense of the urban beyond measure.

This conference aims to examine how global urbanization—an urbanization beyond measure—elicits responses from various affected and knowing publics, when focusing on the global South. This entails recognizing the limitations of conventional modes of registering an urban world that has emerged beyond the conventional domains defined in social and natural sciences. At the same time, the conference attends to insights from urban studies scholars who have shown how cities of the global south “work” despite the lack of conventional (Western) techno-scientific planning and institutions, and understanding the publics who are shaping the urban beyond measure.

We will examine existing research efforts and produce dialogue across social science and natural science fields of environmental research on urban places. Participants will examine specific socio-materialities (e.g., of water, waste, energy, etc.) and identify the difficulties of registering their dynamics, and alternate ways of assessing and understanding them. The day is concluded with the work of photographers and filmmakers who will discuss their alternative methods of registering these urban environments, provoking questions beyond those discussed by the academic researchers.

Organized and moderated by Henrik Ernstson (Stanford, History) and Jia-Ching Chen (Brown, Sociology) through the Urban Beyond Measure initiative in the Stanford Department of Anthropology.

 

KEYNOTE LECTURES

9.00am: LIVING CITIES: TOWARDS A POLITICS OF CONVIVIALITY 
Sarah Whatmore 

4.30pm: EXCAVATING URBAN DEFICITS TO RECONSTRUCT LEGITIMATE MEASURES OF THE CITY
Sue Parnell

 

DIALOGUES

10.15am: SLUMS AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Jason Corburn and Anne Rademacher
Moderated by Sue Parnell

11.15am: SANITATION AND WASTE
Jenna Davis and Garth Myers
Moderated by James Ferguson

1.00pm: URBAN HYDROLOGY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
Perrine Hamel and Malini Ranganathan
Moderated by Henrik Ernstson

2.00pm: POLLUTION AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Stephen Luby and Awadhendra Sharan
Moderated by Jia-Ching Chen

3.30pm: AGGREGATING METRICS OF URBAN SUSTAINABILITY
Timothy Choy, Angel Hsu and Alisa Zomer 
Moderated by Sarah Whatmore

 

FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY

7.00pm: ONE TABLE TWO ELEPHANTS: A FILM ABOUT WAYS OF KNOWING URBAN NATURE
by Jacob von Heland and Henrik Ernstson

8.00pm: KAPITAL CREATION: CHASING THE CHINESE DREAM
by Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald

Ongoing Photo Display:

CHINA’S COUNTERFEIT PARADISE
by Matthew Niederhauser

A MATTER OF COURSE and FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
by Dillon Marsh

 

For full schedule details visit: https://urbanbeyondmeasure.wordpress.com/program/

Details

When:

Friday, May 8, 2015. 09:00 AM

Where:

Stanford Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall

Sponsor:

Stanford Global Studies, Stanford Department of Anthropology, Stanford Center for South Asia, Stanford Center for African Studies, Stanford Humanities Center, The Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation, and Formas

Contact:

Jmdoherty@stanford.edu

Admission:

Friday events free and open to the public. RSVP requested.