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Injured Cities: Urban Afterlives

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.

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?


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.



Speakers include Nina Bernstein, Teddy Cruz, Ann Jones, Dinh Q. Le, Shirin Neshat, Walid Ra'ad, Rebecca Solnit, Clive van den Berg, Eyal Weizman and several narrators from the 9/11 Oral History Project. Confirmed moderators include Gerry Albarelli, Carol Becker, Tina Campt, Saidiya Hartman, Anne McClintock, Rosalind Morris, Diana Taylor, and Mabel Wilson.



The Center for the Critical Analysis of Social Difference (

14-15 October 2011