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58594-01 - Kurs: Critical Urbanisms: Introduction & Orientation 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2022
Angebotsmuster Jedes Herbstsemester
Dozierende Kenny R. Cupers (kenny.cupers@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Lea Marie Nienhoff (l.nienhoff@unibas.ch)
Inhalt This course introduces students to selected current debates in critical urban studies generally, and to themes that frame the Masters in Critical Urbanisms in particular. In order to explain why urban problems persist or how cities change the way they do, observers often rely on unspoken assumptions, theoretical constructs, or inherited perspectives. Their explanations, in turn, are used by a range of actors to legitimize policies or to mobilize forms of intervention. The way a problem is defined shapes the approaches that actors mobilize in response. Critical approaches to urban studies therefore require us not only to account for the complexity of urban realities but also interrogate the various ways in which people make sense of them.
Drawing from the disciplines of geography, architecture, law, political science, history, and anthropology, this course explores the relationship between urban challenges, urban theories, and urban practices. Students will learn to unpack and explicate ways of seeing and making sense of cities and landscapes, and explore how research paradigms bear on specific theories as well as practices and lived experience. Our goal is to explore the “real-world” work of theory and the ways it can help reframe urban challenges and shape alternative modes of engagement.

Structure of the Course:
Orientation: As part of this mandatory introductory course, you will receive detailed information about the Urbanism from the South/Urbanism across Geographies/Anthropological Fieldwork tracks and the process of registering for one of the tracks. This orientation takes place on the first day.
Four Conceptual Themes: The mornings of the rest of the week are structured by four conceptual themes that undergird the MA in Critical Urbanisms curriculum. The first theme, Ways of Knowing the City, explores epistemological contradictions underlying urban studies. We are interested in how disciplinary and methodological perspectives foreground multiple and at times incommensurable ways of knowing the city. The second theme, In Between Theory and Practice, examines modes of engagement in urban studies. Our focus will be on the political and ethical tensions arising from doing research in different urban and global settings. The third theme, The Urban Across Geographies asks how urban studies is shaped by geographically situated claims of validity. Here, we will interrogate dominant binaries, such as north versus south, east versus west, and urban versus rural. The fourth theme, The Present of the Past, focuses on the multiple temporalities that inhabit the city. We ask how an awareness of historical inheritances and colonial afterlives redefines contemporary urban challenges and approaches to urban planning, heritage preservation, migration policy, and so on.
Engagement with Basel: The afternoons of each day offer a physical-sensory and social immersion into the city of Basel. Be it as a newcomer or as long-time resident, it is important to feel well-oriented and embedded in the cityscapes that present themselves as a home during your studies. In a set of workshops, presentations, and urban walks you can equip yourselves with a rich set of knowledge of Basel’s publics, emerging spaces, local agents, and urban practices, which will all be resources to draw on as you venture for a challenging Master’s program. The afternoon course encourages you to immerse yourself in the rich fabric of the city, to take reflective walks, and develop research questions through careful observation. There is no special preparation needed to attend the afternoon workshops and activities.
Student Work, or How to Pass This Course:
PLEASE NOTE: Successfully completing this course is a prerequisite to participating in the Urbanism from the South/Urbanism across Geographies/Anthropological Fieldwork tracks that are offered only in the Spring semester each year.
1. Critical Reflection Journal
You will read the required texts before class (see page 7), making notes as you go along. Your notes should summarize the arguments of the texts and reflect critically upon them. Additionally, you will also make notes throughout the course week, about the class discussions as well as the afternoon activities in Basel. Your writing should explore the connections between the scholarly ideas and the afternoon explorations. We also encourage you to draw and express your ideas in a variety of non-textual ways in your journal (sketches, maps, diagrams, etc). After the week is over, organize your notes in a journal. You are free to structure this as you please (chronologically or thematically), but it should be at least 10 pages long. You should submit your final journal to the instructor via email, by Friday 1 October at 5pm latest.
2. Presence and Active Participation
Students need to be present for at least 80% of all required class times (including the afternoons), and during this time, participate actively in discussions and activities.
3. Final Reflection Presentation
On Friday afternoon (see schedule), you will visually present some key thoughts from your journal in progress. Note down on three different sheets of paper: 1. A quote from the week (from an article, a person you met, a fellow student) that stuck with you, 2. An insight that might guide you as a Critical Urbanisms student in Basel, 3. A topic that interests you as an urban researcher. All students will briefly present (in a minute or so) what they chose and why.
For students unable to attend the course, and for those missing 20% or more of class time: First, you need to validate your absence with a doctor’s note or equivalent documentation. Only serious illness, quarantine, or visa issues will be counted as authorized absence. You are still required to submit your reflection journal and poster presentation via email to the instructors by Friday 1 October at 5pm. Additionally, you are required to submit a 1000-word critical analysis essay for each day or part of the day that you missed (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday). Your essay(s) should summarize and critically discuss the arguments of all the readings. If you miss the Monday orientation class, there is no extra work to make up. If you miss the final reflection presentation on Friday, you will submit your three sheets together with a one-paragraph description of each sheet. The submission deadline for all this material is Friday 1 October at 5pm.

Lernziele This interdisciplinary course pursues three interrelated learning outcomes. The first is to develop an understanding of contemporary debates and approaches in critical urban studies. In doing so, students will also develop an ability to raise and discuss methodological questions. Together, these learning outcomes lay the foundation for developing the ability to discuss and situate urban debates within the variegated global landscape of knowledge production in and about cities and urban territories.
Bemerkungen **** Important note**** For all Spring 2022 students and Newly admitted HS2022 students: Please do register for this course in a timely manner!
As this course also provides some excursions and events the number of students attending is essential for planning purposes.


Teilnahmebedingungen This course is for first year Master in Critical Urbanisms students only.
Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall Block
Datum 19.09.2022 – 23.09.2022
Zeit Siehe Detailangaben
Datum Zeit Raum
Montag 19.09.2022 09.00-17.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 120
Dienstag 20.09.2022 09.00-13.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 117
Mittwoch 21.09.2022 09.00-13.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 117
Donnerstag 22.09.2022 09.00-17.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 117
Freitag 23.09.2022 09.00-17.00 Uhr Kollegienhaus, Hörsaal 120
Module Modul: Introduction to Critical Urbanisms (Master Studiengang Critical Urbanisms)
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen beliebig wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Fachbereich Urban Studies