You just need to Login or Register to make a class proposal. (Sorry about that, but it cuts down on spam and also helps with organizing)


Organizing Committee:


Rethinking physical, ideational and symbolic borders, particularly in the context of countries and cities in conflict. How does the demarcation of space influence issues of surveillance, identity, gender, power and migration? By using case studies from around the world and contemporary theories and practises, this course should be relevant to urban geographers, architects, city planners but also anyone who is interested in spatial theories or attuned with geopolitical concerns

In response to this initial proposal, Nadine Kashlan will lead a series of seminars on specific case studies based on this expanded proposal:

In an ever shifting terrain of post-war and developing cities, the urban environment is needing to locate new ways in which we politically,economically, and socially engage new built forms. In this course I seek to hold a series of lectures and case studies from current theorists, designers, and politicians that cover these three foci.

At the end of this seminar, the aim is to have exposed some of the intrinsic qualities of geopolitically charged terrains. From inhabited spaces such as the refugee camps of Shatilla to the Stari-Most Bridge, the social pressures and needs threaded through our cities by politics coupled with the devastation of land demarcated by war and altering geographical boundaries, we have an opportunity as designers, geographers, politicians, and citizens to create reconstructed spaces that are economically and socially conscience to all. In efforts to show the relationship of the geopolitical, the terrain, and the built we will explore several cities which have undergone reconstructive surgery  to mend its torn fabric together. Analysis will always focus on 3 scales, the urban context, the immediate built form and its relationship to the ground  plane ’the social implications’.

It is important to point out that these sessions are of open dialogue, the exchange of information and the format of a forum holds true to all of these. The case studies are to raise specific themes within regional relationships. To this point we will then be presented with methods of understanding the “borderscapes” scenario through, texts, film, photography, and built projects.

In rethinking the physical, ideal, and symbolic borders, particularly in the context of countries and cities in conflict think of these points:

- How does the demarcation of space influence issues of surveillance, identity, gender, power and migration?

- How has the use of public space acted as catalyst in environments of extreme destruction?

- What is the role, active or inactive, that government plays in reconstruction? Should government play a role?

- Architecture at the scale of infrastructure acts as the connector for the urban fabric, what are the other scales that architecture can function at?

- Can there truly be a method that joins the built environment, political trajectories, and economic constraints in order to create a cohesive rebuilding of a community, social structure, or even a nation?

This course will take on a series of 3-4 sessions that cover these issues within 3 major regions, East Europe, Middle East, + USA. Within each region particular themes will be covered from economic, to infrastructure, to surveillance.


The first session will be held on Saturday, April 24th at 4pm and will provide a general introduction to the topic.  We encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to attend this session to participate in discussion and help devolop the curriculum for the following sessions.

Recommended Reading:

Atrocities. Or, Curtain Walls as Mass Medium by Reinhold Martin

The Third Window: An Interview with Paul Virilio



Will there be any reading we should download for the next class?

Apologies for the long time to respond, but we are still trying to get a date fixed, but given the current events in Manhattan, I do think that the idea of a divided city, in terms of one that perpetually uses defense as the standard M.O. can be expressed in a broader discussion here. While we know that 9/11 was an even that devastated our city and our ultimately our country, how does such an incident alter the way we perceive security and defense. I want to start this dialogue as the beginnings of a comparison between cities that have various amounts of attack. How does this really magnify certain thoughts and perceptions socially and politically? I do believe that now is the time to discuss about such issues when the reality of it has happened in front of us and the questioning of the future is quite heavy.

I think that going forward with a Mexico-US discussion would be the most timely and could help us to all further understand the issues surrounding that particular border. When is the next class to be held?

Hi Nadine,

I think following up the Mostar/Bosnia unit with the grander scale of the US-Mexico border would make for a great discussion. Seems to be the right time for it, too. I'm also curious to learn how those border cities have been affected by the economic crisis of the last two years (greater/lesser inmigration, how that flux has affected the microeconomies that rely on people making the trip north, any particular effects on the housing stock, etc.) Looking forward to hearing Teddy speak, if he's able to make it.

Hello All, I would like to get a sense of people interested in looking into the US- Mexico border as the next session and Latin America (particularly Columbia). I am working on getting Teddy Cruz to speak for all who are interested. Also, if any of you guys have particular cities you want to discuss or other lines of thought on this share! Look forward to hearing for you guys!

Thanks...and great that to hear that you enjoyed it! I am actually in conversation with Teddy Cruz (who is a great architect/designer/social activists and whose work is based around US-Mexico border issues and Latin America), to speak at one of the upcoming sessions about the issues that the border has presented to both sides and in particular how it has affected housing. As for American cities, Detroit is perhaps the poster child for the situation you are speaking about, and I can definitely see it being another session. One that for sure holds similar complexities as zones of conflict.

Thanks for leading the first session, Nadine. Looking forward to the upcoming sessions as well.

For the U.S. installment, in addition to the division between El Paso and Tijuana, maybe we could discuss the way transit projects have created divisions in American cities? This would include the hard-line boundary of a highway cutting through a neighborhood, as well as transportation options bringing in or keeping out residents of certain areas. That could be a topic for an entirely separate class, but I think a little bit of it could add to the discussion.

Thanks for all who came to the first session! It was really great to have a rich discussion. Understanding the trajectories of cities under urban division and the profile type of a disunited context serves as the basis to the analysis of future case studies. The next session will be scheduled in about 2 weeks, where we will look into the work of architect Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss. I look forward to seeing you guys again and meeting new people who can add to this discussion and produce a great think tank for this subject!


The first session of this class is this Saturday, April 24th at 4pm at 177 Livingston.

See you there!

Recommended readings have been added to the course description and are available for download from



Close this window