Columbia University
Cities Studied

Aleppo (Syria), Bogotá, Cali (Colombia), Medellin, New York,

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Laura Kurgan
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Sharon Marcus
Dean of Humanities and Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Arts and Sciences

PROJECT MANAGER

Dare Brawley 
Program Administrator, Center for Spatial Research

The Center for Spatial Research, established in 2015, is an interdisciplinary hub for urban research that links architecture, urbanism, the humanities and data science.  The Center will sponsor a series of curricular and research initiatives built around new technologies of mapping, data visualization, and data collection.  During its inaugural four years, CSR organizing theme will be Conflict Urbanism.  This term designates not simply the conflicts that take place in cities, but also conflict as a structuring principle of cities intrinsically, as a way of inhabiting and creating urban space.

SAMPLE PROJECTS

Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo
We have built an open-source, interactive, data-rich map of the city of Aleppo, at the neighborhood scale.  Users can navigate the city, with the aid of high resolution satellite imagery from before and during the current civil war, and explore geo-located data about cultural sites and urban damage from Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Operational Satellite Applications Programme, and the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) at the U.S. Department of State.  The map is also a platform into which additional data of all sorts can be integrated.  It is an invitation to students and invited collaborators to record and narrate urban damage in Aleppo—at the cultural, infrastructural, or neighborhood scale—and to present that research in case studies which will be added to the website over time.

Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities
This course provides an introduction to mapping theory and geographic information systems tools.  Through the use of open-source GIS software (qGIS) and open data (OpenStreetMap) students will learn how to critically use mapping tools and geographic data for spatial analysis and representation.  In this course, students will work through a series of web tutorials and hands-on in-class exercises to gain a better understanding of how these tools and data can be leveraged to analyze, represent and study past or present urban phenomena.  In addition to using existing data, students will also be able to create or bring their own sets of data and questions from other courses and will be able to work with these in our class.

Conflict Urbanism: Colombia
On the eve of an historic and controversial peace agreement in Colombia we have launched an investigation into the spatial characteristics of the decades long conflict between multiple state and non-state actors in the country.  We have provisionally titled this research Conflict Urbanism: Colombia.  We aim to analyze and visualize the documented aspects of the conflict in Colombia in order to put forward policy recommendations for the transitional justice and peacebuilding process.  These recommendations will be informed by rigorous mapping, spatial analysis, and in-depth research on the socio-historical context of the conflict. Our work will engage with existing efforts to construct diverse historical memory in transitional justice projects, especially those in Latin America, and at the same time bring new modes of visualizing violent conflict and its aftermath into discourses of truth and reconciliation.

Mapping for the Urban Humanities: A Summer Bootcamp
The Center for Spatial Research and the Dean of Humanities are hosting an intensive summer workshop for thirteen Columbia University faculty.  During the two-week “bootcamp,” faculty will learn key skills in mapping, data visualization, and data collection that they can incorporate into their research and teaching. Participating faculty come from such diverse fields as: Art History and Archaeology, Slavic Languages and Literatures, History, Jewish Studies, Anthropology, Latin American and Iberian Cultures, Architecture, and English.  Over the course of the first two weeks, faculty will learn critical methods in digital mapping and data collection through the use of open-source software (qGIS Faculty will bring to the workshop at least one syllabus for a course they plan to teach in the near future that would benefit from incorporating mapping-based research methods. The course will address how to incorporate newly acquired skills into course assignments and syllabi.  The ultimate aim of the summer intensive is to equip faculty with tools to make humanities courses places where students, who might not otherwise learn digital skills, to embrace them by way of humanistic questions.

Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures: Focus Aleppo (Spring 2016)
A series of lectures to address the historiography of the field “Islamic Art” by scoring the particular moments of ruptures that fractured its foundation.  This semester has a particular focus on Aleppo, Syria.  Organized by Avinoam Shalem, Riggio Professor, Arts of Islam, Department of Art History and Archeology, and Laura Kurgan, Associate Professor of Architecture, GSAPP, in collaboration with the Center for Spatial Research, the Historic Preservation Program, and the Middle East Institute, Columbia University.

Resources

Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo

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Conflict Urbanism: Aleppo

Institution:

Columbia University,

Category:

Syllabi

Locations:

Aleppo (Syria),

This is the first in a series of multidisciplinary seminars on the topic of Conflict Urbanism, a term that designates that cities are not only destroyed but also built through conflict. This year focuses on Aleppo in Syria.

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Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures

Go to site >
Disrupting Unity and Discerning Ruptures

Institution:

Columbia University,

Locations:

Aleppo (Syria),

A series of lectures to address the historiography of the field 'Islamic Art' by scoring the particular moments of ruptures that fractured its foundation.

Open in a new window >

Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities

Go to site >
Mapping for Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities

Institution:

Columbia University,

Category:

Syllabi

Locations:

New York,

This course provides an introduction to mapping theory and geographic information systems tools.

Tags:

Mapping
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