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58594-01 - Course: Critical Urbanisms: Introduction 2 CP

Semester fall semester 2020
Course frequency Every fall sem.
Lecturers Kenny R. Cupers (, Assessor)
Shourideh Molaei Birgani (
Sophie Oldfield (
Content This course introduces students to current debates in critical urban studies. 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, in order words, shapes the solution to it. (For example, the outcome of a neighborhood study can range from bulldozing homes to building schools.) 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 we can make sense of them.

Drawing from the disciplines of geography, architecture, 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.

The course is organized in four thematic blocks, covering one theme per teaching day. The first block, “Ways of Knowing the City,” explores epistemological contradictions undergirding urban studies. We are interested in how disciplinary and methodological perspectives foreground multiple and at times incommensurable ways of knowing the city. The second block, “The Urban Across Geographies” asks how urban studies is shaped by spatially situated claims of validity. Here, we will question geographical binaries, such as north versus south, east versus west, and urban versus rural. The third block, “The Present of the Past,” focuses on the multiple temporalities that shape urban inquiry. We ask how an awareness of historical inheritances and colonial afterlives redefines contemporary urban challenges and notions of urban development. The fourth block, “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.

Learning objectives - An understanding of contemporary debates and approaches in critical urban studies
- An ability to discuss and situate urban debates within the variegated global landscape of knowledge production in and about cities and urban territories
- An ability to raise and discuss methodological questions in urban studies
Comments ***Lehrveranstaltung mit Maskenpflicht
***Masks are mandatory during this course


Admission requirements This course is for first year Master in Critical Urbanisms students only.
Language of instruction English
Use of digital media No specific media used


Interval Block
Date 07.09.2020 – 11.09.2020
Time See details
Date Time Room
Monday 07.09.2020 09.00-18.30 Bernoullianum, Grosser Hörsaal 148
Tuesday 08.09.2020 09.00-17.00 Rosshofgasse (Schnitz), Seminarraum S 02
Wednesday 09.09.2020 09.00-17.00 Rosshofgasse (Schnitz), Seminarraum S 02
Thursday 10.09.2020 09.00-17.00 Rosshofgasse (Schnitz), Seminarraum S 02
Friday 11.09.2020 09.00-17.00 Rosshofgasse (Schnitz), Seminarraum S 02
Modules Module: Introduction to Critical Urbanisms (Master's degree program Critical Urbanisms)
Assessment format continuous assessment
Assessment registration/deregistration Reg.: course registration; dereg.: not required
Repeat examination no repeat examination
Scale Pass / Fail
Repeated registration as often as necessary
Responsible faculty Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,
Offered by Fachbereich Urban Studies