Ways of Knowing Cities

Dare Brawley & Laura Kurgan



Technology mediates how we know and experience cities, and the nature of this mediation has always been deeply political. Today, the production and deployment of data is at the forefront of projects to grasp and reshape urban life. Ways of Knowing Cities considers the role of technology in generating, materializing, and contesting urban epistemologies—tracing an arc from ubiquitous sites of “smart” urbanism, to discrete struggles over infrastructural governance, to forgotten histories of segregation now naturalized in urban algorithms, to exceptional territories of border policing. Bringing together architects, urbanists, artists, and scholars of critical migration studies, media theory, geography, anthropology, and literature, the essays stage a deeply interdisciplinary conversation, interrogating the ways in which certain ways of knowing are predicated on the erasure of others. In this opening, the book engages the information systems that structure urban space and social life in it, historically and in the present moment, to imagine alternative practices and generate new critical perspectives on spatial research.


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Dare Brawley is a researcher and designer. She is assistant director of the Center for Spatial Research at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University.

Laura Kurgan is associate professor of architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, where she directs the Center for Spatial Research and the Visual Studies curriculum.