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Injured Cities/Urban Afterlives

  • Miller Theatre and Wood Auditorium (map)

What are the effects of catastrophe on cities, their inhabitants, and the larger world? How can we address the politics of terror with which states react to their vulnerability? In a series of presentations and conversations, an international group of artists, writers, activists and individuals directly affected by urban inquiry will imagine creative modes of reinvention in response to urban disasters.

Conference attendees are invited to visit the “Remembering 9/11″ Exhibition at the International Center for Photography – — free of charge. Please bring a conference program or a confirmation email for the conference online registration.

Sponsored by the Columbia University Engendering Archives Project in the Center for the Study of Social Difference

  • Speakers Ariella Azoulay • Nina Bernstein • Teddy Cruz • Ann Jones • Dinh Q. Lê • Shirin Neshat • Walid Raad • Saskia Sassen • Diana Taylor • Karen Till • Clive van den Berg • Eyal Weizman • Narrators from the September 11, 2001 Oral History Project
  • Evening Event Testigo de las Ruinas/Witness to the Ruins: a Lecture-Performance with Mapa Teatro, Bogotá, Colombia, followed by a panel discussion with the artists, moderated by Diana Taylor
  • Exhibition in the Neiman Gallery, Encounters in the Aftermath: Works by Lorie Novak

Co-Sponsors: The Office of the President, Columbia University School of the Arts, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Center for Oral History, Friends of Columbia University Libraries, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Society of Fellows, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, Committee on Global Thought, Barnard Center for Research on Women, Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, Yale University Public Humanities Program, Center for Palestine Studies.

About Injured Cities Urban Afterlives

What enduring wounds does catastrophe leave on urban life, and how can they be mobilized and transformed in the aftermath of injury to enable the imagination of new modes of social life and to thwart impending forms of social death?

This conference, convened on the tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, aims to explore the effects of catastrophe on cities and their inhabitants, to analyze the politics of shock and terror states use in response to their vulnerability, and to imagine more life-affirming modes of redress and re-invention.

New York City provides a significant and indeed singularly relevant locus for this event. A city of immigrants, many of whom have ties to other cities that have suffered catastrophe, New York’s intellectuals and cultural producers, as well as its ordinary citizens, have a unique contribution to offer to the many urgent projects of reimagining cities around the world today.

The focal point of the conference will be the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project of Columbia’s Oral History Research Office, an oral history archive of 600 life stories of diverse New York City communities. The collection documents the multiple ways that “difference” – in the form of geography, cultural memory, ethnic identity, class, gender, generation, religious and political affiliation – affects how individuals are subject to and assign meaning to historical catastrophe, both immediately after the event and in the months and years following.

The conference will begin with a morning panel that lays the groundwork for the discussions we hope to stimulate throughout the two days. Panel One, “Injured Cities/ Threshold Catastrophes” will address the temporality of urban catastrophe, looking both at the populations that are most vulnerable and most deeply affected by injury — those on the threshold of catastrophe, to borrow a term from Israeli theorist Ariella Azoulay — and at ‘wounded cities’ in the aftermath.  Panelists are urban sociologist Saskia Sassen, cultural theorist Azoulay and cultural geographer Karen Till.

Injured Cities: Urban Afterlives seeks to initiate a new collective memory of the events of 9/11, 2001, that arises from the local and urban, but also the global experiences of those most directly – and differently – affected. The first afternoon will focus on a series of dialogues organized by Mary Marshall Clark (Director of the Columbia University Oral History Research Office) that stage an encounter between oral history narrators who will testify to the crucial ways in which “difference” became a threat to the construction of a national collective memory of 9/11—a threat that endangered the national consensus that quickly formed for global retaliation. As a creative extension of the discussions of the opening day, the conference organizer are planning to host an evening performance of Testimony to the Ruins by the acclaimed Colombian theater group Mapa Teatro at Miller Theater.

Day Two of the conference will be organized around three interdisciplinary and international panels of noted artists, architects, scholars, journalists, and practitioners. Panel Four, “Citizens, Immigrants, Aliens in the Aftermath,” will think through the politics of belonging and unbelonging that result in the wake of catastrophic events, as well as the demographic injuries that fracture cities with potentially catastrophic effects. Panel Five, “Spatializing Afterlife” will engage the expressive cultural forms through which urban artists, planners, activists and policy-makers have engaged catastrophe, and how they have responded to their enduring wounds through the spatio-physical re-visioning of injured cities. The final panel “Art and Archive After Catastrophe” will focus on artistic responses to urban catastrophe, and the creative modalities that transform them into acts of redress and renewal.

Participants include Ariella Azoulay, Nina Bernstein, Teddy Cruz, Ann Jones, Dinh Q. Lê, Anne McClintock, Shirin Neshat, Walid Raad, Saskia Sassen, Karen Till, Clive van den Berg, Eyal Weizman and several narrators from the 9/11 Oral History Project; moderators Gerry Albarelli, Carol Becker, Hazel V. Carby, Tina Campt, Andreas Huyssen, Mary Marshall Clark, Saidiya Hartman, Rosalind Morris, Diana Taylor, and Mabel Wilson; and conference co-organizers Tina Campt, Marianne Hirsch, Jean Howard, Lorie Novak, and Laura Wexler.

Participant Bios

Ariella Azoulay

She is the author of Civil Imagination: The Political Ontology of Photography (2011, Verso), From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950, Pluto Press), Act of State(2008, in Hebrew ñ Etgar publisher, in Italian Atto di Stato in Italian Bruno Mondadori), The Civil Contract of Photography (2008, Zone Books), This Regime Which Is Not One: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and The River (1967), (with Adi Ophir, resling, 2008), Once Upon A Time: Photography following Walter Benjamin (Bar Ilan University Press, 2006, in Hebrew), Deathís Showcase (MIT Press, 2001 Winner of The Affinity Award, ICP).

Curator of Untaken Photographs (2010, Winner of the Igor Zabel Competition, The Moderna galerija, Lubliana, Zochrot, Tel Aviv), Architecture of Destruction (Zochrot, Tel Aviv), The Angel of History (Hertzela Museum of Art, Mishkan Le-Omanut, Ein Harod, 2001).

Director of documentary films I Also Dwell Among Your Own People: Conversations with Azmi Bishara(2004), The Chain Food (2004) and A Sign from Heaven (1999).  She teaches at Tel Aviv University.

Nina Bernstein

Nina Bernstein is a reporter for The New York Times who has written on a broad range of social and legal issues since joining the paper in 1995. She has covered immigration since 2004, and her investigative reporting on deaths in immigration detention received several awards last year, including ones from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and Columbia’s School of Journalism. She also was part of a team that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for coverage of the scandal that resulted in the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

She is the author of “The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care,” (Pantheon 2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, won a PEN literary award and received the 2002 New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Ms. Bernstein, a native New Yorker, began her career on newspapers in Iowa and Milwaukee, and for nine years was a reporter for Newsday, where she served as a foreign correspondent in Berlin and Bosnia. She has a B.A. in European history and literature from Harvard, where she returned in 1983-84 as a Nieman fellow. In 2002-2003 she was a journalism fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.

Teddy Cruz

Teddy Cruz was born in Guatemala City. He obtained a Master in Design Studies at Harvard University in 1997 and established his research-based architecture practice in San Diego, California in 2000. He has been recognized internationally for his urban research of the Tijuana-San Diego border. In 1991, he received the prestigious Rome Prize in Architecture and in 2005 he was the first recipient of the James Stirling Memorial Lecture On The City Prize. His work has been profiled in important publications including The New York Times, Domus and Harvard Design Magazine. In 2008, he represented the US in the Venice Architecture Biennial and this year his work will be included in Small Scale, Big Change exhibition at MoMA. He is currently a professor in public culture and urbanism in the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego, where he co-founded CUE / Center for Urban Ecologies.

Ann Jones

Ann Jones, an authority on violence against women, is a journalist, photographer, activist, and author of eight books of nonfiction, most recently War Is Not Over When It’s Over (Metropolitan 2010), an account of a year’s work with women and cameras in war-torn countries from West Africa to Iraq, assessing the impact of continuing violence on women. Her other books include Kabul in Winter (2006), an account of her years as a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan, Next Time She’ll Be Dead (1994, 2000), an analysis of the legal, social, and cultural foundations of wife-beating in the United States, and Women Who Kill (1980), recently republished by the Feminist Press as a Contemporary Feminist Classic.

She spent the last eight years doing humanitarian work with women in conflict and post-conflict zones of Afghanistan, West Africa, the Democratic Republic Congo, Kosovo, Thailand (with refugees from Burma) and the Middle East, and also served as an emergency gender adviser to the United Nations. She is a regular contributor to The Nation and the indispensable  She holds a PhD in modern literature and history from the University of Wisconsin and is currently the Mildred Londa Weisman Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, where she is working on a book about what happens to America when troops come home.

Dinh Q. Lê

Dinh Q. Lê was born in Ha-Tien, Vietnam in 1968.  He received his BA in Art studio at UC Santa Barbara in 1989 and his MFA in Photography and Related Media at The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1992.  In 1993, Lê return to Vietnam for the first time and in 1996 Lê decided to settle down in Ho Chi Minh City.

Lê’s work has exhibited worldwide. His recent solo exhibitions include, A Tapestry of Memories: The Art of Dinh Q. Lê at the Bellevue Art Museum, Washington State; Destination for the New Millennium, The Art of Dinh Q. Lê, at the Asia Society, New York, Project 93: Dinh Q. Lê at MOMA, New York.  Upcoming exhibition in 2011 includes Erasure, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, Australia.

He was also included in the 55th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, 2009 City Visions Festival, Mechelen, Belgium; 2009 Cuvee Biennale, Linz, Austria; 2008 Singapore Biennale; Thermocline of Art exhibition at ZKM in Germany; the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial at Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane Australia; Universal Experience at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; The Gwangju Biennial 2006, Korea; Persistent Vestiges: Drawings from the American-Vietnam War, The Drawing Center, New York; Infinite Painting, Villa Manin, Italy; Only Skin Deep at the International Center for Photography, New York; Delays and Revolutions, Venice Biennale 2003.

His work is in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Portland Art Museum; The Bronx Museum, New York; The Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.

Besides being artist, Lê also co-founded Vietnam Art Foundation-VNFA based in Los Angeles, an organization that supports Vietnamese artists and promotes artistic exchange between cultural workers from Vietnam and around the world.  Through VNFA, Lê and three other artists co-founded San Art, a none profit gallery in Ho Chi Minh City.  He is currently a board member of the Art Network Asia, and a member of the Asia Society’s international council.

Anne McClintock

Anne McClintock is a writer, photographer and activist who holds the Simone de Beauvoir Chair of English and Gender Studies at UW-Madison She is completing a book called Paranoid Empire. Perpetual War and the Twilight of U.S. Power, on US imperialism, the crisis of the visible in the “war on terror,” photography, torture and violence. She is the author of Imperial Leather, short biographies of Olive Schreiner and Simone de Beauvoir, a monograph Double Crossings, and she co-edited Dangerous Liaisons.

McClintock lectures internationally on issues of sexuality, gender, race, imperialism, photography, and the environment. She has written for The New York Times, The Guardian (London), The TLS, Village Voice, Truth Out, Guernica Magazine, Counterpunch, Women’s Review of Books, among many other venues. Her photographs documenting the Gulf oil disaster and the Madison protests appeared in The NationTruth Out, Counterpunch, Guernica Magazine, and Social Text.

McClintock is completing three books Skin Hunger. A Chronicle of Sex, Desire and Money (Jonathan Cape); Planet of Intimate Trespass (Routledge), and The Sex Work Reader (Vintage). She has been the recipient of many awards including two MacArthur Fellowships and over fourteen Artist Fellowships at Macdowell, Yaddo, Blue Mountain, VCCA and Dorland. Her work has been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Taiwanese, Dutch, Japanese and Mandarin. 

Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat, is an Iranian born artist/filmmaker living in New York. She has held numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and museum internationally, including at: The National Museum of Contemporary Arts in Athens, Greece; Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; the Serpentine Gallery, in London, England; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Leon, Spain; Hamburger Bahnhof, in Berlin, Germany; Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal, in Montreal, Canada; Walker Art Center, in Minneapolis; Castello di Rivoli, in Turin, Italy and The Kunsthalle Wien, in Vienna, Austria; Shirin has received prizes, including the Golden Lion Award at 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, and the Lillian Gish Prize in 2006. Neshat’s first feature length film “Women Without Men” received the Silver Lion Award in the 66th Venice International Film Festival in 2009.

Walid Raad

Walid Raad is an artist and an Associate Professor of Art in The Cooper Union (New York, USA). Raad’s works include The Atlas Group, a fifteen-year project between 1989 and 2004 about the contemporary history of Lebanon, and the ongoing projects Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Art in the Arab World, and Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut). His books include The Truth Will Be Known When The Last Witness Is DeadMy Neck Is Thinner Than A Hair, Let’s Be Honest, The Weather Helped, and Scratching on Things I Could Disavow.  Raad’s works have been shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (London, UK), Documenta 11 (Kassel, Germany), The Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy), Festival d’Automne (Paris, France), The Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin, Germany), Homeworks (Beirut, Lebanon) and numerous other museums and venues in Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

Raad is also the recipient of the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (2011), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009), the Alpert Award in Visual Arts (2007), the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2007), and the Camera Austria Award (2005).

Saskia Sassen

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University. Her recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton University Press 2008) and A Sociology of Globalization(W.W.Norton 2007). She is currently working on When Territory Exits Existing Frameworks (Under contract with Harvard University Press). Forthcoming is the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy(Sage 2011). Recent edited books are Deciphering the Global: Its Spaces, Scales and Subjects (Routledge 2007), and Digital Formations: New Architectures for Global Order (Princeton University Press 2005). The Global City came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001.For UNESCO she organized a five-year project on sustainable human settlement with a network of researchers and activists in over 30 countries; it is published as one of the volumes of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (Oxford, UK: EOLSS Publishers) [ ]. The Global City came out in a new fully updated edition in 2001.  Her books are translated into twenty-one languages. She has received several honors and awards, most recently a doctor honoris causa from each Delft University (Netherlands), DePaul University (USA), and Universite de Poitiers (France). She serves on several editorial boards and is an advisor to several international bodies. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Cities, and chaired the Information Technology and International Cooperation Committee of the Social Science Research Council (USA). She has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, Newsweek International, among others, and contributes regularly to and

Diana Taylor

Diana Taylor is University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies and Spanish at NYU. She is the author of the award-winning Theatre of Crisis: Drama and Politics in Latin America (1991), Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ (1997), and most recently The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Duke U.P., 2003), which won the Outstanding Book from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, and the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for Best Book in Latin American and Hispanic Studies from the Modern Language Association. She has two books forthcoming in Spanish (PERFORMANCE in Editorial ASUNTOS IMPRESOS, Argentina, and Acciones de Memoria coming out with Editorial Metales Pesados, Chile. She has edited over a dozen books, has lectured extensively around the world, and is the recipient of many awards and fellowship, including the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. She is founding director of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, funded by the Ford, Mellon, Rockefeller, Rockefeller Brothers and Henry Luce Foundations.

Karen Till

Karen E. Till is Lecturer in Geography at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and co-founder and convener of the Space&Place Research Collaborative. Her geo-ethnographic research and curatorial work explore the interrelationships between place-making, personal and social memory, public space, and cultural politics in contemporary cities, including Berlin, Bogotá, Cape Town, and Roanoke. Her publications include: The New Berlin: Memory, Politics, Place (2005); the edited volume and exhibition catalogue Mapping Spectral Traces (2011); and the edited volumes Walls, Borders, and Boundaries: Spatial and Cultural Practices in Europe (with Marc Silberman and Janet Ward, forthcoming); Textures of Place: Rethinking Humanist Geographies (with Paul Adams and Steven Hoelscher, 2001); and numerous book chapters and articles, including in Memory, Studies, the History Workshop Journal, Social and Cultural Geography, the German Historical Institute Newsletter, and cultural geographies. She is currently working on two book-length projects, Interim Spaces and Wounded Cities.  Karen is founding co-convener of the international artists-practitioners-scholars network Mapping Spectral Traces:

Clive van den Berg

Clive van den Berg is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and was born in Zambia in 1956. He is an artist working in various disciplines. Besides his studio practice he devotes much time to the curation and design of heritage projects, sometimes on his own and sometimes through trace a company comprising professionals from different disciplines, including architects, historians, writers and artists. They design, research and curate exhibitions, public art projects and museum developments. Many of these are projects of redress, activating reflection on the past and future envisioning. His studio practice centers around figures and space. At present he is particularly interested in probing spaces that have no certain visual vocabulary, like the spaces beneath the seen landscape, a terrain of repressed histories and inchoate desires.

Eyal Weizman

Eyal Weizman is an architect and director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. He studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and completed his PhD at the London Consortium, Birkbeck College. Since 2007 he is a member of the architectural collective “decolonizing architecture” in Beit Sahour, Palestine. Since 2008 he is a member of B’Tselem board of directors.  Weizman has taught, lectured, curated and organized conferences in many institutions worldwide. His books include The Lesser Evil (Nottetempo, 2009), Hollow Land (Verso Books, 2007), A Civilian Occupation (Verso Books, 2003), the series Territories 1,2 and 3, Yellow Rhythms and many articles in journals, magazines and edited books. Weizman is a regular contributor and an editorial board member for several journals and magazines including Humanity, Cabinet and Inflexions. Weizman is the recipient of the James Stirling Memorial Lecture Prize for 2006-2007 and was chosen to deliver the Edward Said Memorial Lecture at Warwick 2010.


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13: LEROY NEIMAN GALLERY, DODGE HALL5:00p.m. – 7:00p.m.Opening Reception, “Encounters in the Aftermath: Works by Lorie Novak” 

Book Signing with Rosalind Morris and Clive van den Berg: The Art of Clive van den Berg: Unlearning the Grounds of Art, by Rosalind Morris

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14: MILLER THEATER, DODGE HALL11a.m. – 11:15a.m.Opening Remarks
Marianne Hirsch
President Lee Bollinger11:15a.m. – 12:45p.m.Panel 1. “Injured Cities/Threshold Catastrophes” 

Ariella Azoulay, Tel Aviv University

Saskia Sassen, Columbia University
“When the City Itself Becomes a Technology for War”

Karen Till, National University of Ireland Maynooth
“Wounded Cities”

Moderator: Saidiya Hartman, Columbia University

12:45p.m. – 2:00p.m.Lunch Break2:00p.m. – 3:30p.m.Panel 2. September 11 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project: Life in the Political Aftermath, Living with Terror at Home 

Narrators: Talat Hamdani and Zorah Saed
Moderator: Gerry Albarelli and Mary Marshall Clark, Columbia Center for Oral History

3:45p.m. – 5:15p.m.Panel 3. September 11 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project: Reimagining the City: Voices of 9/11 in Poetry and Performance” 

Narrators: Maria Georgina Lopez Zombrano, Robert W. Snyder, Zaheer Jaffery
Moderators: Gerry Albarelli, Mary Marshall Clark, and Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner, Columbia University Center for Oral History

5:30p.m. – 6:30p.m.Reception, Dodge Café and LeRoy Neiman Gallery7:30p.m.MILLER THEATER
Witness to the Ruins: a Lecture-Performance
Mapa Teatro, Bogotá, Colombia

Introduction: Andreas Huyssen
Discussion moderated by Diana Taylor

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15: WOOD AUDITORIUM, AVERY HALL (breaks/receptions in Brownies Café)9:00a.m. – 9:45a.m.Breakfast9:45a.m. – 11:45a.m.Panel 4: “Bodies and Borders in the Aftermath” 

Nina Bernstein, Journalist, New York Times
“Exiled in America”

Ann Jones, Author/Journalist
“Kabul: Ruined Again”

Diana Taylor, New York University
“Performing Citizenship: Activists Take to the Streets”

Moderator: Hazel V. Carby, Yale University

11:45a.m. – 1:00p.m.Lunch Break1:00p.m. – 3:00p.m.Panel 5: “Spatializing Afterlife” 

Eyal Weizman, Architect/Author
“Forensic Architecture”

Clive van den Berg, Artist, Curator and Author (South Africa)
“Making Past Present: Recouping Memory to Inscribe the City: Two New Museum Projects in Johannesburg”

Teddy Cruz, Architect, Visual Arts Department, UCSD
“The Injured Public and the Search for a New Civic Imagination”

Moderators: Mabel Wilson and Rosalind Morris, Columbia University

3:00p.m. – 3:30p.m.Coffee Break3:30p.m. – 5:30p.m.Panel 6: “Art and Archive After Catastrophe” 

Walid Raad, Artist and Professor of Art, Cooper Union
“We Can Make Rain But No One Came to Ask”

Dinh Q Le, Artist
“Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City: Thirty-Six Years of Silent Resistance”

Shirin Neshat, Artist
“Artists as Catalysts for Change”

Moderator: Carol Becker, Columbia University

5:30p.m. – 5:45p.m.Closing Remarks

Earlier Event: October 6
Disabled at Columbia