Experiencing the City. Spring School on Critical Theories and Visual Methods

Experiencing the City. Spring School on Critical Theories and Visual Methods

Experiencing the City. Spring School on Critical Theories and Visual Methods

1200 400 Into the Black Box

The city is more and more one of the main concepts of contemporary critical theory. Nevertheless, the very possibility to define what a city is remains at stake of contemporary theoretical, empirical and even political debates. The “academic babel” of contemporary urban studies is marked by a proliferation of approaches, methodologies, perspectives, increasingly proliferating and often contrasting. This huge amount of researches on the urban is both a powerful and productive source for expanding the knowledge about contemporary urbanscapes, and a limit. On one hand, the amazing heterogeneity of gazes on the urban enables a complex and dynamic possibility to explore it. On the other hand, there is a risk of hard fragmentation that makes impossible a full understanding of what is going on.

The short-time spring school Experiencing the City aims to elaborate a contribution in the direction of a methodological and theoretical “engaged pluralism” for discussing and grasping contemporary urban dynamics. The school will be based in Puebla (Mexico) and will put together scholars and experts to collectively study, understand and experiment the ways in which we imagine, design and represent urban spaces thanks to both theoretical seminars and practical workshops.

The event proposes a multidisciplinary approach based on 3 open lectures and 3 reserved workshops aimed to introduce scholars both to the critical debate and to the use of field research methodologies. Every day will be articulated into 1 lecture and 1 workshop. Furthermore, the school will be introduced by a roundtable at Universidad Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City.

Max. 25 participants to the workshops will be selected among students, PhD and early-stage researchers; to apply send a 2-pages CV and a short statement of purpose to info@intotheblackbox.com by the 31st of October expressing “Experiencing the City Application” in the object of the mail. Candidates interested in presenting (15 minutes) researches during the lectures could send a brief abstract (max 500 words) specifying which of the 3 lectures they apply for. Some scholarships will be available.



  • Roundtable
    The geographical logic of contemporary capitalism
    Critical studies have demonstrated the centrality of the spatial dimension in the understanding of capitalism, from its origins to the present day. From the very beginning, in fact, capitalism has always had a strong geographical dimension: for instance, the Atlantic slave trade or the construction of the global market. At the same time, these lines of development of capitalism have also been the terrain of contention with the liberation movements, from anti-colonial struggles to the Paris Commune. This centrality of the spatial dimension does not disappear, on the contrary, it appears increasingly clear in the present.
    Urban studies cannot ignore the analysis of the transformations of the neo-liberal city and its internal conflicts for a right to the city. Logistics has become more and more established in recent years as the logic of flows but also of the knots and bottlenecks that sabotage the project of a world defined exclusively by the free and uninterrupted movement of goods. Finally, platform capitalism seems to be able to combine the urban dimension of the production process with a logistical organization of production.
    The roundtable aims to explore these fields of transformation and conflict – from the city to logistical infrastructures via platforms – that contribute to defining what we can call the geographical logic of contemporary capitalism.
    Speakers: David Harvey (CUNY), Keller Easterling (Yale University)


  • Lecture
    A genealogy of the city
    How has the city developed? Which are the main political and social lines of its transformations? In this lecture there will be a particular focus on historical reflections about the relation between bodies and urban space. Some paradigmatic cases of the modern development of the city will be presented.
    Speakers: Niccolò Cuppini (SUPSI), Mattia Frapporti (UNIBO)
  • Lecture
    Critical theories on urban spaces. An overview on contemporary debate
    This lecture will present different perspectives of ongoing critical analysis between global, logistics and urban approaches. It will give special importance to the feminist theory or feminist critique to urbanism and its analysis about the process of genderization of spaces in the city.
    Speakers: Keller Easterling (Yale University)
  • Lecture
    Building the city. Transformations and conflicts
    Which are contemporary problems and possible futures for urban spaces? This lecture will present urban spaces not as neutral places but as the field of tension between logistics flows, architectural transformations, re-generation processes, social movements and security policies.
    Speakers: David Harvey (CUNY)
  • Workshop
    Oral History and Public Life
    Urban spaces shape different subjectivities. This workshop aims to give scholars some instruments to collect the direct voices of urban inhabitants. The city will be considered as a public space for social, economic, emotional and political interactions. Personal histories, urban sounds and public announcements will be used to produce a narrative picture of the city.
    Tutor: Carlos Baca (Tecnologico de Monterrey)
  • Workshop
    Collective Mapping
    The workshop aims to generate a space for training and activation of visual and cartographic tools for collaborative and territorial research. We will work on pre-designed graphic panels the outline of a territorial project that will address the spatial, temporal, corporal and landscape dimensions, from the thematic selections made by each participant. The work can be individual or group.
    Tutor: Iconoclasistas
  • Workshop
    Signs and symbols: exploring and building a visual archive of the city
    Recent transformations in the global south, including transitions to a market-socialist economy, neoliberalism, and late capitalism, have demanded and produced re-configurations of urban space. One of the most compelling features of these processes, has been the way in which urban futures are designed, perceived and imagined. In this workshop, we propose to develop visual, critical historiographic and ethnographic tools for analyzing the processes by which emerging cities are reconfigured as sites of contestation, displacement and empty space vis-à-vis state imaginaries of the future.
    Tutor: Linsey Ly (CUNY)


More details will be soon out.

Promoted by:

Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theories

Into the Black Box Research Collective

Horizon2020 Project PLUS

Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey – Campus de Puebla

Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla


Ines Molina Agudo (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid)

Pavjo Gjini (University of Tirana)

Linsey Ly (City University of New York)

Maurilio Pirone (University of Bologna)

Rebecca Uliasz (Duke University)