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Introduction to International Planning - The Politics of International Placemaking: Spatializing Urban Cultures

Course number: PLA4609

The creation and recreation of urban places is an essential component of planning practice across the world. Planners are agents that mediate global, political, and economic pressures, on the one hand, and local socio-cultural and institutional conditions, on the other. Within these multifaceted contexts and interacting with communities, they facilitate an ongoing process of global placemaking. This course explores the practices and politics of placemaking and how they impact and are impacted by the (re)production and (de/re)territorialization of cultural practices, institutional arrangements, and spatial traits/trends in multiple and varied localities across the globe at the turn of the 21st century. The students are expected to critically analyze and compare the nuanced differences across planning contexts, assess the level of effectiveness of planning approaches used in addressing such conditions and their resulting place-based effects, and envision better planning practices to make progress in the attainment of more just cities. Applied theory (rather than abstract theory), including south/eastern perspectives, will be used to illuminate planning case studies around the world. Case studies are useful in addressing ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. In the context of planning the urban habitat, case studies help us disentangle who plans and who is (not) planned with/for (i.e., stakeholders), how (i.e., under which (dis)enabling conditions and with what methods/tools), and why (i.e., for what purposes and responding to which values). They also help us reflect on the effectiveness and pertinence of different planning approaches vis-à-vis contextual matters, and envision improved policy-making and practical planning approaches in comparative ways. The course strives to deconstruct dualism and binaries embedded in planning theoretical traditions and constructs: north-south, east-west, developed-underdeveloped, first-third world, etc. They obscure the messy constitution of spatial relations in a globalized world. We will problematize these dualisms and binaries, focusing on revealing instead the blurriness but also the productiveness that lies in-between the binaries, and identifying opportunities for planning’s emancipatory power within these grey interstices.