MIT World Series: The Resilient City: Trauma, Recovery and Remembrance
MIT's Resilient City project was conceived in response to the terrorist attacks that destroyed New York's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Intended as both a scholarly and therapeutic exercise, the colloquium will examine critically how cities in the past have endured traumatic episodes, and prevailed to establish new order out of chaos and devastation. In this series of public lectures, we will attempt to understand the economic, artistic, political, social and cultural forces that have enabled cities to rebuild and recover, and in the process develop a framework for understanding both the commonalities and differences inherent in post-traumatic urbanism. To do so we will investigate a diverse selection of examples of urban trauma, recovery, and remembrance from around the world.
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of these. Cities throughout history have been subjected to periodic destruction. They have been shaken, sacked, burned, bombed, flooded, and irradiated. Yet, in almost every case, they have been rebuilt--usually, as inhabited places, although sometimes--in cases such as Pompeii or Timgad--they become sites for tourism, education, or even mythmaking. Whether reconstructed to accommodate and restore city life or rebuilt to serve as sites for mourning and remembrance, no major city has been truly or permanently lost.
This politics of reconstruction itself generally takes two intertwined forms: a politics of symbolic succession, and a politics of institutional processes. How has the symbolic power of the built environment been used as a both a magnet for attack and as a signal of recovery? What does each particular process of recovery reveal about the balance of power in the society seeking to rebuild? Whose vision for the future gets built, and why? These and other questions will shape the colloquium's broad-ranging inquiry into urban resilience and recovery.
The Resilient City colloquium lectures will be held on Monday evenings throughout spring 2002 and conclude with a final presentation on September 11, 2002.