Facilitated by professors Setha Low, Jeff Maskovsky, Leith Mullings, and Ida Susser, this year-long seminar offered by the Graduate Center PhD program in Anthropology brings together scholars and students from anthropology and other disciplines and fields to discuss the theme of urban futures.  In addition to speculating about the cultural, political, economic and governmental forces that will shape the 21st century metropolis, we are also interested in considering how past and present imaginaries, strategies, and practices orient themselves towards the city that is yet to come, and how these orientations both shape and are shaped by relations of power. Seminar discussion will center on discrete areas of analysis such as mobility, infrastructure, dwelling, sustainability, affect and social movements, and will interrogate new dilemmas in the historical and ethnographic exploration of power, difference and inequality.

This seminar is animated by a recognition that, as our urbanizing world changes, so too do the influential paradigms for studying it. The intellectual challenges of studying urbanism and urbanization, always formidable, are even more complicated today by the blurring of disciplinary boundaries.  Yet this blurring also creates opportunities for anthropologists and scholars in other disciplines to reconsider their perspectives on the urban future. We are concerned also that current paradigms — on globalization, neoliberalism, post-coloniality, futurity, space and place, and so forth — may have in some ways reached the zenith of their explanatory power, and that new urban ethnographic and historical approaches are now needed to move the field forward in exciting new directions.

The seminar will bring together scholars and students working across topics, theoretical and ethnographic perspectives and regions of the world. Together, we will think beyond the usual subjects in pursuit of open-minded and constructive dialogue and tentative answers to difficult questions.

Seminar participation is by invitation only.  For more information, contact professor Jeff Maskovsky (