Cities, Infrastructures, and Politics: From Renaissance to Smart Technologies

Infrastructures play a decisive role in urban development and the life of cities. This course will envisage this role from a historical perspective. History proves especially useful when dealing with the political dimension of urban infrastructures. From fortifications to smart technologies, infrastructures are inseparable from political intentions and consequences. This political dimension will constitute one of the threads of this lecture course. Other themes of the course will include the relation between cities and their hinterland, the progressive dematerialization of infrastructures, from walls or bridges to the invisible electronic networks that organize contemporary urban life, the rise of environmental concerns and their impact on infrastructural thoughts and practices, the need to conceive differently infrastructures when dealing with informal settlements.

'Cities, Infrastructures, and Politics: From Renaissance to Smart Technologies' would like to suggest an alternative way to read cities and their evolution. Historical analysis will systematically serve as a basis to envisage contemporary issues. Since it aims to chart new territory, the discussions following the presentations will play an important role. Apart from regular attendance and participation in the discussions that will follow the presentations, the students will be asked to produce a short end-of-the-semester paper on a topic related to the course.
Among the topics covered:

– Urban Infrastructure and Politics. A Theoretical and Empirical Challenge
– Cartography as Infrastructure
– Infrastructures for Conflicts: From Urban Fortification to electronic surveillance
– Territories, Cities and the Transportation Revolution
– The Rise of the 19th-Century Networked City
– From Nineteenth-Century Urban Parks to the High Line in New York: An Infrastructural Nature
– Technology, Infrastructure and the Urban Experience: From Electricity to the Digital
– Rationalization Doctrines, Architecture and Urban Planning from Scientific Management to System Theory
– Infrastructure and Urban Modernization in the 20th Century
– Infrastructures for Leisure and Tourism
– Smart Cities: A Self-Fulfilling Ideal
– Urban Metabolism and Infrastructure: Towards the Sustainable and Resilient City