Urban Image

The Urban Research Hub brings together faculty, students, and community partners in individual and collaborative research projects on cities and urban life, as well as critical discourses on development, mobility, and capitalism. We are interested in sociological, anthropological, historical and other approaches to defining and understanding cities, their limits and borders, as well as their relationships to and implications for the peri-urban and rural. Ongoing projects include analyses of neighborhood stratification through metrics of mobility and vitality; the use of GIS mapping tools to understand issues of race and class over time; vernacular cosmopolitanisms in world cities, gentrification in Washington D.C. and National Landing in northern Virginia, and geographies of urban protest in the U.S. and abroad.

Upcoming Events: 

Faculty Panel on Urban Research

Thursday, March 21, 2024 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM EDT

Topics covered include: human mobility, environmental justice, built environment, public space, social memory, systematic peacebuilding, violence prevention, disability, accessibility, urban design, gentrification, displacement, rapid transit, suburban development, and urban resilience.

The Urban Research Hub invites you to hear from six Mason faculty members across three colleges/schools about their latest urban research and participate in the discussion / Q&A afterward. Refreshments provided.

Faculty Panelists:

  • Johanna Bockman - Global Affairs, CHSS
  • Alireza Ermagun - Geography and Geoinformation Science, College of Science
  • Arthur Romano - Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution
  • Sun-Young Park - History, CHSS
  • Rashmi Sadana - Anthropology, CHSS
  • Zachary Schrag - History, CHSS 

CSSR Urban Research Hub presents a talk by Malini Ranganathan: Towards an Anticaste Epistemology for Environmental Justice in Urban India

Monday, April 15, 2024 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM EDT

In urban India, the loss of land rights, unsafe sanitation work, and flood and climate change risk—what I refer to as "environmental unfreedoms"—are structured by caste violence, Islamophobia, and gender and class hierarchies in ways that critical scholarship has yet to take stock of. Based on a book project in progress, this talk puts forth a critical caste framework for examining environmental privileges and unfreedoms rooted in a longer history of caste power, racial colonial capitalism, and Hindu majoritarianism. It draws on ethnographic research on challenges related to flooding, housing, and labor inequities that disproportionately beset lower castes, Dalits, and Muslims, particularly in a moment of rightwing nationalism. Ultimately, through learning, writing, and protesting alongside anticaste journalists, activists, workers, and union organizers in Bengaluru over the past six years, I argue that any understanding of environmental justice in urban India—and indeed globally—has to be rooted in collective and intersectional calls for dignity, liberation, and humanism. Such a reconceptualization presents a serious counter to the epistemology of mainstream liberal environmentalism.

To RSVP, please visit https://cssr.gmu.edu/events/15569.

Past Events: Recaps and Inquiries

Disrupting DC: The Rise of Uber and the Fall of the City

Monday, September 11, 2023, co-author Dr. Katie Wells presented her book Disrupting DC: The Rise of Uber and the Fall of the City. With her co-authors Kafui Attoh, and Declan Cullen, they tell the story of Uber as a political force, revealing how DC became a testing ground and eventual “playbook” for the company's consolidation of power across the nation and the globe. Dr. Wells is a postdoctoral Fritz Fellow with Georgetown University’s new Tech & Society initiative and based in the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program. She is also an affiliated fellow with the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation and the Georgetown Global Cities Initiative. 

Find out how it went!

Event Highlights:

CSSR Urban Research Hub Workshop:

Corporate Community Development: National Landing and Beyond Workshop

Friday, March 31, 2023 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM EDT

In 2018, Amazon announced Northern Virginia as the site for its second headquarters. National Landing represents a rebranding of the Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard neighborhoods by Amazon and the lead developer, JBG Smith. Since the announcement, the area is being carefully crafted to fit the overall brand image of Amazon—one that meets all the criteria of a globally shared place-branding checklist, including a brand name, unifying artistic elements, updated infrastructure and green spaces. We have come together as a group of researchers to raise the issues that have resulted from corporate community development as they relate to not only National Landing but also other urban development projects globally. The CSSR Urban Research is hosting a workshop to discuss this important topic. Save the date for this exciting workshop!

CSSR Urban Research Hub Workshop:

Corporate Community Development: National Landing and Beyond Workshop Call for Papers

Abstracts due Wednesday, March 1, 2023 11:59 PM EST

We are inviting submissions of abstracts by Wednesday, March 1, 2023, from graduate students, established scholars, public administrators, and urban planners at any stage of their study, across disciplines within humanities and social sciences, from any part of the world. We will notify you about acceptance by February 15th, 2023. All participants with accepted abstracts will be invited to present their research (as a paper in progress or other modalities) in the workshop.  Since this is a workshop and not a conference, the idea is to discuss work in progress and brainstorm ideas. 

Spatial Justice as a Product of Field Relationships: Post-Communist Governance and Ideological Dominance (the case of Prague)

A Dissertation Workshop with Václav Orcígr

Friday, February 24, 2023 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EST

What are the possible benefits of theory of practice for exploring spatial inequalities in current cities? Prague, as a post-communist city, creates an interestingly colorful and broad field of actors involved in urban governance, planning, decision-making, and public participation. Within the context of critical discourse analysis applied to media articles and public meetings, the workshop will focus on the patterns of ideological dominance.

The workshop format will include a short presentation and joint discussion focusing on the writing process, sharing experiences, and evaluating the research. The workshop will also focus on the role of reconsidering the concepts of field and capital and their use within planning practices and urban governance.

Václav Orcígr is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at Charles University in Prague, Czechia. He is currently residing in Washington, D.C., as part of his Fulbright program stay at George Mason University. His research focuses on the neoliberal development of cities in the post-socialist context, housing affordability and alternatives, ideological performativity within constructed discourses on urbanism and the conception of the right to the city.

Interested in joining the Urban Research Hub?

Please contact cssr@gmu.edu or Rashmi Sadana at rsadana@gmu.edu.

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