International Conference on Locating the City: The Idea, Place, Politics, and Everyday Practice of the Urban

May 3 - 6, 2001
Bilkent Hotel (Kemer, Antalya – Turkey)

International Conference by

  • Center for Research on Transitional Societies (CRTS), Bilkent University
  • International Center for Advanced Studies (ICAS), New York University
  • Center for Urban Studies, Illinois Institute of Technology

Starting on the premise that there is no single definition of the "city," this conference seeks to locate the city in lived experience, in textual mediums, political interventions, territorial and spatial arrangements, ideas and ideals. Assuming that there are as many "cities" as there are instances whereby the idea of the city is evoked, this conference seeks to explore and locate different ways in which the city is conjured up in political, spatial, ideational interventions as it becomes the locus of the urban, the modern, the national, or the global. It addresses the ways in which modernity, nations and nationalisms, colonial and postcolonial relations, the global and the cosmopolitan have been intrinsically tied with cities and city life. It interrogates the ways in which class, gender, race, ethnicity or religion have been interconnected with cities and urban life in the making and contestations of modern, national, local, global, postcolonial or cosmopolitan modes and forms.


  • May 3, Thursday – Arrivals
    18:30 – Welcome Reception/ Introductions
    Güliz Ger, CRTS – Bilkent University
    Thomas Bender, ICAS – New York University
    Alev Çınar, CRTS – Bilkent University
    Camilla Fojas – Illinois Institute of Technology

    21:00 - Exhibition/Presentation by Leo Rubinfein “Inventing a Poetry of the Global City”
  • May 4, Friday
    8:30 - 10:30 - Session 1: The City and Its Boundaries

    Since cities are identified with place, place is often assumed to define their boundaries. More and more, however, the city is understood as extending beyond the local, beyond a particular place. Or at least, it is understood to be embedded in structures and processes that are larger than it. This panel examines the relation of the city to its larger context, to its changing boundaries or extensions. How is the city constituted in relation to its exterior? How does the city contribute to the constitution of its larger context, whether that other context is geographical, ethnic, economic, cultural, political? What is the extended city’s relation to the national state and state system? Questions of the definitions and relations of the “local,” “global,” “cosmopolitan” are inevitably raised. In what way is the city present in the global and the global in the urban?

    • Margaret Cohen, Comparative Literature, New York University "The City and the Sea"
    • Camilla Fojas, Illinois Institute of Technology "Splitting Image: Border Cinema and the Global City"
    • Anthony King, Dept.of Art History, U.of Binghamton, SUNY "City of Bits/Bits of Cities: Diasporas, Movement(s), Histories"
    • Ethel Brooks, New York University “Other Sites of Citizenship? Transnational protest, the mall, the and EPZ”

    Moderator: Thomas Bender

    10:30 -11:00 - Break

    11:00-13:00 - Session 2: The Search for Particular Modernities

    The urban experience often takes shape in relation to questions of belonging and identification. This panel explores the ways in which the city becomes a site of identification and the articulation of alternative visions of modernity. It explores the image and identity of a city as it becomes the articulation of a particular modernity or vision of a future wherein different groups seek a sense of belonging. How does the city become the locus of identification that provides either a sense of belonging and participation in modernity, or an estrangement from it?

    • Seteney Shami, Social Science Research Council, New York “Amman is not a city: Ideology, Identity and Space in the making of Middle Eastern Cities”
    • Benglan Goh, National University of Singapore “Southeast Asian Modernity Reconsidered”
    • Beatriz Jaguaribe, ICAS, New York University “Cities without Maps: representing the favela in Rio de Janeiro”
    • Jan Nederveen Pieterse, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague “Cities and Architectures of Power”

    Moderator: Alev Çınar

    13:00 -14:30 - Lunch

    14:30 -16:30 - Session 3: Ideational Representations of the City

    This panel addresses questions relating to the idea and image of the city and the urban as these representations become imbued with political meaning instigating change and movement, the creation of the new and the ideal, the projection of ideal futures. How is the City or the Urban imagined in relation to the future, to issues of change, advancement and modernity? This panel will explore the political effects of such imaginations as they operate through the popular media, literary texts, film or other mediums of representation.

    • Anne Norton, Political Science, University of Pennsylvania “The City Built, The City Performed: the Enactment and Subversion of Modernism”
    • Margarita Gutman, New York University “The Power of Anticipation: Building Metropolitan Society and Space”
    • Abidin Kusno, Metropolitan Studies, New York University “Colonial Cities and Consciousness Change: "Shanghai," "Amsterdam" and "Jakarta" in Tan Malaka's Autobiography”
    • Gülsüm Baydar Nalbantoğlu, Dept.of Internal Design, Bilkent University “Spectral Returns of Domesti(city)”

    Moderator: Camilla Fojas

    17:00 - Film - Christine Choy, "Ha, Ha Shanghai,”
  • May 5, Saturday
    8:30 - 10:30 - Session 4: The City and the Nation

    This panel examines the ways in which cities and city spaces become the main sites from which national identities are forged and nations are built. It explores the ways in which the city becomes implicated in the consolidation of the nation-state and the articulation of contending notions of nation-hood. It addresses questions related to nation-building, including citizenship, territorial consolidation, centralization of power or contestations of these as they take shape in relation to and through cities and city spaces.

    • Maha Yayha, Department of Architecture, MIT “Suspended Urbanities: Architectural Narratives and Postwar Building in Beirut”
    • Srirupa Roy, Political Science, U.of Massachusetts/Amherst “Outside the city: Representation, absence, and the Indian constituent assembly debates”
    • Alev Çınar, Political Science, Bilkent University “Imagining the Nation, Making the City: Spatial Articulations of Secular Nationalism in Ankara and Istanbul”
    • Jordana Dym, Department of History, Skidmore College “City, State, and Nation in Central America, 1821-1839: From Pueblos to Pueblo, Creating the National State”

    Moderator: Fuat Keyman, CRTS Bilkent University

    10:30 - 11:00 - Break

    11:00-13:00 Session 5: The Urban as a Partial Experience

    Is a city experienced in its totality and impartially? How meaningful is it to talk about the city as a single place where there is a characteristic urban experience? Does not position and condition produce discrepancies among city dwellers? How does the politics of the city (institutional and discursive) privilege certain positions and identities and marginalize others? What resources are available to those privileged and those marginalized? This panel explores the partial experiences of the city from the positions of various subjectivities and resources, particularly those positions and experiences conditioned by dominant hierarchies of race, gender, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation.

    • Sukhdev Sandhu, ICAS, New York University “Hope in a Darkened Heart: Black Artists and the Future of Archaeology of Greenwich”
    • Benton Jay Komins and Özlem Sandıkcı, Bilkent University “A Topography of Difference: İstanbul's Beyoğlu”
    • Zhang Zhen, Cinema Studies, New York University “Worldly Shanghai, Metropolitan Film Spectatorship”
    • Nayan Shah, History Dept., University of California at San Diego “Race, Public Health, and Citizenship”

    Moderator: Ayşe Öncü, Sociology, Boğaziçi University

    13:00 -14:30 - Lunch

    14:30 -16:30 - Session 6: Negotiating Integration

    As the locus of modernity and nationalism, the city becomes the site for the negotiation of what is to be included into the making of the modern and the national, and what is to be excluded. This negotiation is often articulated as a question of integration and/or resistance of the particular and historical to the new and modern, the local to the national, the marginal to the center, the rural and suburban to the urban. This panel explores various instances whereby such negotiations of integration are articulated spatially, architecturally and geographically.

    • AbdouMaliq Simone, Columbia University “Building New Platforms for Collective Urban Politics in African Cities”
    • Smriti Srinivas, Comparative Studies, Ohio State University “Cities of the Past and Cities of the Future: Theorizing the Indian Metropolis of Bangalore”
    • Peter Carroll, Department of History, Northwestern University “The Modernist Chinese City and the Disrupture of Modern Civicness”
    • Mark Levine, Jean Monnet Fellow, European Univ. Institute “Peace in Old-New Jaffa: The Architecture of Israeli and Palestinian Identitites in a Post-Conflict City”

    Moderator: Deniz Yükseker

    16:30 -17:00 - Break

    17:00-18:00 - Special Session: The City in Practice and Policy
    • Michael Cohen, New York University “Urban Scholarship, Urban Practice, and Urban Aid: Evaluating Results”
  • May 6, Sunday
    9:00-10:30 - Closing Session
    Concluding Remarks and Discussion
    • Thomas Bender, International Center for Advanced Studies, NYU

    Organizer and Coordinator: Alev Çınar – Bilkent University
Bilkent University
06800 Bilkent – Ankara Turkey
Tel: +90 (312) 290 1253 – Fax: +90 (312) 266 4958