'Urban Borderlands' conference begins today: Experts from Berlin, Mexico City, Chicago discuss urban crises
The Chicago Humanities Institute will present an international conference, "Urban Borderlands: Images of Crisis in Berlin, Mexico City and Chicago," beginning at 5:30 p.m. today, Nov. 10, and continuing through Sunday, Nov. 13. The conference, co-sponsored with the Goethe-Institut Chicago, is free and open to the public. Additional sponsors include the University's Center for International Studies and Mexican Studies Center, the German American Arts Foundation and Lufthansa German Airlines.
The conference will bring together scholars and urban experts from a range of academic disciplines and social programs to discuss the hazards and potentials of urban development in the late 20th century.
"Berlin, Mexico City and Chicago are all major cities, embedded in complex national societies and involved in volatile global processes," said Arjun Appadurai, the Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke Professor in South Asian Languages & Civilizations and Director of the Chicago Humanities Institute. "They have many historical links as well as vital points of similarity and difference in regard to immigration, emigration and cultural diversity. This conference will bring together people to talk about how these cities experience, represent and manage crisis in their settings."
The conference "is the kind of event that defines the current work of the Chicago Humanities Institute," Appadurai said. "It is international, both in theme and in its participants. It is collaborative, with the Goethe-Institut's participation helping us to make possible what might otherwise have been too unwieldy. It puts a focus on how the humanities are involved in issues of urgent local and national interest. And it exemplifies my own commitment to creating a complex dialogue between theory and practice, between people who are academics and people who are not. This conference will feature people from the worlds of architecture, politics and city planning, as well as from academia."
The first two days of the conference will be presented at the University of Chicago Downtown Center. The second two days will be presented at the Chicago Humanities Institute in Regenstein Library. Each of the five sessions will include speakers on Berlin, Mexico City and Chicago.
The conference will open at 5:30 p.m. today, Nov. 10, at the Downtown Center with keynote addresses by Volker Albus, an architect and designer from Frankfurt, Germany; Homero Aridjis, president, Grupo de los Cien; and Nick Rabkin, senior program officer for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The conference will continue with a panel discussion, "The Social Fabric of Urban Life," from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. The panel will be moderated by Friedrich Katz, the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor in History, and J. Courtney Federle, Professor in Germanic Languages & Literatures, will be one of the discussants.
Two panel discussions are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12. "The Search for Urban Identities," from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will be moderated by Alan Kolata, Professor in Anthropology, and will include discussant Kathleen Conzen, Professor in History. "Images of the Modern Metropolis," from 2 to 5 p.m., will include discussant Miriam Hansen, Professor in English Language & Literature.
The final panel discussion, "Spaces of Power," will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13. The panel will be moderated by Michael Geyer, Professor in History.
To register, or for more information, call the Chicago Humanities Institute at 702-8274 or the Goethe-Institut Chicago at 329-0915.