This course explores methods of urban research through the lens of the archive. As a site of selective public and/or private memory, a physical collection of records shaped by various power dynamics, and a metaphor for holding knowledge, the archive is central to the mediated production of urban space. Whereas governmental archives hold a particular power over the narration of history, social movements and civil society organizations have created a range of alternative collections, including oral history and sound archives. Historians tend to approach these existing archives as repositories of ‘primary sources,’ yet the materiality and media of the city itself can also be used as evidence in urban research. At the same time, the rise of the internet has exploded the notion of what constitutes an archive. Our digitally mediated lives now constitute an archive with radically new powers that reshape our physical world.
This course will train students in archival methods for urban research, while reflecting on the epistemological questions that come with the explosion of the archive into urban reality. The course begins with the premise that archives are not a collection of neutral records of events, but shaped by difference and otherness with regard to gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and ability. The course encourages students to conceptualize urban research as the production of new archives, produced in collaboration with a range of interlocutors. Furthermore, the course explores how contemporary urban conditions, shaped by the so-called digital revolution, invite alternate ways of research and how they underpin our central focus on evaluating knowledge production about the urban. The cross-examine of innovative case studies will help students to expand their imagination of urban archives. Students will learn to combine creative and critical approaches to urban media and knowledge production. In addition to interrogating conventional methods of urban scholarship, they will gain practical skills and techniques to prepare them for individual research projects in urban studies.
Kulturanthropologie, Gender Studies
Universitäre Hochschulen (UH)