Date: Thursday, September 20, 2018 to Saturday, September 22, 2018
Location: Harvard Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS)

There are very few signs that slums will transition out of the urban landscape in the foreseeable future. Even after more than one and a half centuries of policy interventions, starting from efforts to address the effects of industrialization in Europe, slums persist in almost every geography on the planet. Slums are not only visible in the Global South, but are reappearing in old and new manifestations in the Global North. Their persistence can be linked to a number of political and economic failures to effectively address poverty and inequality, distorted land markets, and systemic social exclusion. These failures are, in turn, rooted in the very way policymakers, global media, and intellectuals conceptualize and represent how, why, and by whom slums are produced, maintained, and reproduced. Slums continue to be imagined as urban aberrations, something that falls outside of (or delinked from) urban ecologies.

Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon is a symposium being held at Harvard University from September 20-22, 2018 that will challenge participants to discuss the range of perceptions and systemic changes needed to re-imagine integrative urban and social landscapes, as well as the labor and land markets that most often underpin the formation of slums. Organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the symposium seeks to advance new policy, financial, design, and educational tools that can both improve existing slums and generate alternatives to future ones.

A diverse group of academic, policy, design and media experts, as well as community representatives will bridge historically siloed narratives about slums and discuss innovative ways to address them. The symposium will begin with a keynote presentation on Thursday evening (Sept 20) with Ranjani Mazumdar, Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. The slum has been a visual force in a number of city films from across the world. The use of certain geographical locations and popular discourses about crime and poverty have given shape to a diverse range of images that are at once powerful, mythic and disturbing. The keynote will explore the perceptions that have fueled the imagination of the cinematic slum.

Confirmed symposium speakers include:

Jose Baravelli, Tereza Architechture and Urbanism

Martha Chen, Harvard Kennedy School and WIEGO

Michael Cohen, The New School

Alejandro de Castro Mazarro, Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (2019)

Fernando de Mello, URBEM Institute of Urbanism and Studies for the Metropolis

Alejandro Echeverri, Center for Urban and Environmental Studies of EAFIT University; Former Loeb Fellow

Brodwyn Fischer, University of Chicago

George Galster, Wayne State University

Sumila Gulyani, The World Bank

Alejandro Haiek Coll, Lab.Pro.Fab and Umeå University

Chris Herbert and David Luberoff, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

Jorge Francisco Liernur, University Torcuato di Tella

Ranjani Mazumdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University

George McCarthyEnrique Silva, and Martim O. Smolka, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Rahul Mehrotra, Harvard Graduate School of Design and RMA Architects

Sheela Patel, Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres

Janice Perlman, The Mega-Cities Project

Edgar Pieterse, African Centre for Cities

Lyvia Rodriguez, Executive Director, El Cano Martin Pena ENLACE Project

Michael Uwemedimo, Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform and University of Roehampton

Charlotte Vorms, University of Paris

Peter Ward and Jake Wegmann, University of Texas at Austin

Theresa Williamson, Catalytic Communities

Nicholas You, Global Business Alliance

M. Lorena Zárate, Habitat International Coalition

The symposium, which is free and open to the public (registration required), will be held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS). It starts on the evening of Thursday, September 20, with the keynote at the Harvard GSD and continues on Friday and Saturday, September 21 and 22 at CGIS with full days of presentations and discussions.

REGISTER TO ATTEND (Registration closes September 19.)

FULL AGENDA (revised 9/17/18)

Join the conversation on Twitter with #SlumsNewVisions