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Faculty Feature: Hiba Bou Akar

Submitted by on December 10, 2012 – 8:59 amNo Comment

Hiba Bou Akar, assistant professor of Middle Eastern studies, received her Bachelor of Architecture from the American University of Beirut (AUB), her Master’s in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and her Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

Her research interests include urban and planning theory, critical social theory, Middle Eastern studies, geographies of war and conflict, ethnographic and field studies methodologies in contested spaces, as well as architecture and urban planning pedagogies.

Bou Akar’s current research investigates the role that religious-political organizations have in shaping contested geographies through the design and implementation of urban planning regulations, construction of infrastructure projects, operations of land and housing markets, and legislation of property and building laws. Her first book, Narrating Beirut from its Borderlines (2011), is a coedited public scholarship volume, which features her work along with the work of her colleagues and students on the contemporary geographies of the Lebanese sectarian political system.

Offered Courses:

Fall 2012 Geographies of Exclusion

This course investigates the idea of geographies of exclusion through a multi-disciplinary inquiry which locates space and spatial production at its center. The course cross-thinks issues of exclusion across cities in the Global South and the Global North. It asks the following questions: what are geographies of exclusion? Who gets excluded, why, by whom, and how? What are some of the legal, spatial, socio-economical, ethical, and political apparatuses that produce segregated spaces of poverty and lavishness, violence and fear, connectedness and confinement? What are the roles of “experts” such as architects, statisticians, planners, and policy-makers in producing such geographies? Gender, class, religion, and race are the main fault lines that we will use to study how certain populations in our cities are left “outside” (through gated communities, “mean” streets, security barriers, segregated parks, etc.), or kept “inside” (refugees in camps, locked-in domestic workers, prisoners, etc.).

Spring 2013 The Politics and Poetics of Space

In this course, we will examine the politics and poetics of space and the built environment. Space, broadly conceived, is not merely a physical manifestation of social processes that are embedded within it; rather, all social relations are fundamentally spatial. Accordingly this course looks at the social, political, and economic relations that produce space, focusing on urbanization and the spatial production of cities of the Global South and the Global North. We will specifically examine cities as produced by a set of contradictions…(read the full course description as well as those of Bou Akar’s other courses here)

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