Research Initiative: Contested Cities

Cities are terrains of social and political contestation. It is projected that 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, and cities are major engines of both economic growth and socio-economic inequality. Cities are central nodes in networks of translocal and transnational migration, including immigration, gentrification, and trafficking; they are at the forefront of efforts to adapt to anthropogenic climate change and address environmental injustices; they are, increasingly, arenas in which people mobilize to demand human rights to food, water, health, housing, education, and human dignity. In short, cities are the sites where many contemporary struggles for social justice unfold.

The Global Studies Center’s “Contested Cities” initiative seeks to situate these trends and developments in global and world-historical perspective, paying particular attention to the transnational processes – such as the financialization of housing, the privatization of water, the militarization of policing, and the localization of human rights and democracy– that have converged to make cities exemplary of contemporary globalization. While our interests in this area are broad-ranging, we have particular strength in the following areas:

  • Cities as key nodes in global networks;
  • Historical processes of urban transformation;
  • Connecting global processes with local experiences;
  • The right to the city and the global human rights cities movement;
  • Housing as a human right;
  • Cities and migration;
  • Cities and global health;
  • Urban education;
  • Struggles over sustainability;
  • Processes of mutual accountability;
  • Debates over smart cities and the role of technology in urban management and surveillance.

Michael Glass

(412) 648-7459

Dr. Michael Glass is an urbanist who works at the intersection of geography and planning. His primary research is on city-region governance and planning, housing, and urban infrastructure; he has regional expertise in Southeast Asia, North America, and Australasia. He is the co-editor of Performativity, Politics, and the Production of Social Space (Routledge, 2014) and co-author of Priced Out: Stuyvesant Town and the Loss of Middle-Class Neighborhoods (NYU Press, 2016). His most recent research examines the ways that infrastructure shapes regions and influences regional equity. He has published extensively in leading international journals and is on the editorial boards of Asian Geography Journal and Regional Studies, Regional Science. Winner of the 2015 Bellet Award for Teaching Excellence, Dr. Glass is the Director of the Urban Studies Program and serves as the undergraduate advisor.

Michael Goodhart

(412) 624-4478
Michael Goodhart is Professor of Political Science, and he holds secondary appointments in Philosophy and in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies. His current research focuses on questions to do with global injustice and responsibility for injustice.  He is also interested in thinking about new modes of political theorizing for the Anthropocene. His core intellectual interests are in the theory and practice of democracy and human rights in the context of globalization and in related questions concerning global justice, democratic governance, and political responsibility at the transnational level.
Dr. Goodhart is co-president of the Association for Political Theory; he is an affiliate of the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut, a member of the Center for Ethics and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, and sits on several editorial boards. In 2008-2009 he was an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation research fellow and Guest Professor in the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin.