Scenes of Aleppo’s war-torn streets may be shocking to the world’s majority urban population, but such destruction would be familiar to urban dwellers as early as the third millennium BCE.  While war is often narrated as a clash of empires, nation-states, and ‘civilizations,’ cities have been the strategic targets of military campaigns, to be conquered, destroyed, or occupied.  Cities have likewise been shaped by war, through the transformation of urban space for the purposes of military production, the post-conflict reconstruction of streets, buildings, and public space, as well as sites for remembering the costs of war.  This conference seeks to understand this critical intersection between war and urban society, culture, and the built environment, and welcomes interdisciplinary scholarship on the subject.  Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Cities as warzones
  • Military occupation of cities
  • Cities as sites of military production
  • Cities and memorialization of war
  • Postwar urban reconstruction
  • War refugees and cities

The conference will be held at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, at 365 Fifth Avenue in New York City on May 19, 2017. The intent is to assemble a program without chronological, methodological, or regional limits. 

9:00-10:30 Panel 1

  • Cities of Earth, Cities of Rubble: The Spade and Red Army Landscaping (Brandon Schechter, New York University)
  • Learning the “Grammar” of Urban Operations: The United States Army and Urban Combat in World War II (Jonathan Beall, University of North Georgia)
  • Inverse Geometry as a Tool to Reconnect the Disconnected (Maheen Abbasi, Middle East Technical University)
  • Reconstruction Undone: The City of Gaza in the Aftermath of WWI (Dotan Halevy, Columbia University)

Moderator: Mark D. Van Ells (Queensborough Community College/CUNY)

10:45-12:15 Panel 2

  • Panic in London? The Attitudes of the Civilian Population During Air Attacks in 1917 and 1944/45 (Linda Parker, Independent Scholar)
  • ‘Government Forces Dare Not Penetrate’: British Counter-Insurgency, the Othering of Palestine’s Old Cities and Re-Conceptualizations of Battle-Space During the Great Arab Rebellion, 1936-1939 (Simon Davis, Bronx Community College and Graduate Center, CUNY)
  • The Death of a City: The Yugoslav Peoples Army Siege of Vukovar, 1991, Refugee Crisis, and its Aftermath (James Horncastle, Simon Fraser University)

Moderator: Frank Jacob (Queensborough Community College, CUNY)

1:00-2:30 Panel 3

  • War and the Urban Context in Paris during World War II: The Germans and Tourism During their Military Occupation, 1940-1944 (Bertram Gordon, Mills College)
  • Imperial Designs: U.S. Military Government and the Neocolonial Spatial Politics of Labor in Santiago de Cuba and Oriente after 1898 (Justin F. Jackson, New York University)
  • Beyond Resilience: Survivors and Strangers in Postwar Berlin (Avi Sharma, Technical University of Berlin)
  • The Politics of Food during the Occupation of Naples in World War II (Stefan Laffin, Bielefeld University)

Moderator: Bob Wintermute (Queens College, CUNY)

2:45-4:15 Panel 4: Cities and Memories of War

  • Competing Scars on the Walls and Souls of a Paris Suburb: A Century of Reviving and Obliterating War Memories in Saint-Denis, 1914-2017 (Fabrice Langrognet, University of Cambridge)
  • Memories and Identities: The Case of the City of Strasbourg, 1681-1914 (Donatus E. Düsterhaus, Université de Fribourg)
  • In the Shadow of the Sino-French War: Nationalist Memories and Cosmopolitan Histories of China’s Naval Culture in Fuzhou (Ke Ren, College of the Holy Cross)

Moderator: Kenneth Pearl (Queensborough Community College, CUNY)

4:30-6:00 Panel 5: Postwar Urban Reconstruction

  • Postwar and Conflict Time Reconstruction: Sharing Space in the City (Anita Bakshi, Rutgers University)
  • A Polish Solution for Postwar German Planning Disasters? Brutalist Old Towns and the Search for Rootedness in Frankfurt and Leipzig (Andrew Demshuk, American University)
  • The Russification of Vilna and the Jewish Survivors, 1944 – 1945 (Miri Merin-Freilich, Beit Berl College)
  • Refugees in the Old City of Damascus (Faedah M. Totah, Virginia Commonwealth University) 

Moderator: Sarah Danielsson (Queensborough Community College and Graduate Center, CUNY)