Global Cities, Climate Changed: Urbanization in Most of the World

ANTH 294

Nikhil Anand

Monday/Wednesday, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Even as the air, earth, and water are being irrevocably transformed in the Anthropocene, cities of the Global South poised to host 90% of the global urban population growth in the next generation. Taken together, environments in cities of the South are critical sites to learn what might become of cities and citizens in the future. Today, these cities continue to be imagined, analyzed, and planned using theoretical frameworks that have been developed by studying a handful of cities in Europe and North America in the middle of the twentieth century. Rather than take these cities to be imperfect models of urbanization compared to cities in the Global North, or of an example of urbanization in a different time, in this class, we attend closely to urban processes on the ground in "most of the world" to ask: How do rapid economic and environmental shifts restructure and reorganize urban space in postcolonial cities? How are economic, racial, and colonial histories and desires reproduced through the everyday practices of urban development? Finally, how and why do marginalized groups live in the city without access to economic and political power? By reading key urban studies texts and ethnographies of cities in Asia, Latin America and Africa, the course will explore how transnational capital, policy, and everyday practice are producing new kinds of cities and “cityness” in most of the world.

In 2019, the course will focus on the environments that cities produce, in particular the ways in which new kinds of environmental crises – water scarcity, climate change, and flooding – challenge urban life both in the Global South and the Global North. How are these crises produced, experienced, and addressed by differentiated urban residents? How might we understand the ways that governments are not/responding to them? As youth and persons of color demand a serious and important response to address the climate emergency, the course concludes with a critical review of efforts to address climate crises in cities in different parts of the world. 

Nikhil Anand | Associate Professor of Anthropology | University of Pennsylvania | 215.898.6984 | web | twitter

Fall 2019