THE BIRTH OF HABITAT: AN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF THE ‘URBAN AGE’, 1963-2016

Tamer Elshayal

My dissertation project explores the role of the United Nations’ specialized agencies, and their transnational epistemic networks, in the formation of an expert discourse on global urbanization. The research traces how this policy discourse shifted in focus from housing in ‘Third World’ cities to urban governance on a global scale. By focusing on the multilateral dynamics of the UN system, I trace the transnational circulations of planning ideas, instruments and policy models across geopolitical divides. The project aims to situate these intellectual and institutional reorientations within broader historical transformations in North-South relations, from the conditions of the Cold War and decolonization to the ascendency of global capitalism. With the broadening intersections of urban governance with other global normative frameworks (addressing climate change, environmental injustices, global inequality, social exclusion and human rights violations) it is necessary to understand the contested processes by which planning norms get transnationally constituted, contested and translated into ‘technical’ policy targets.

Planned Outcome: Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University

Poster of the 1st United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat I, Vancouver, 1976.
Excerpt from Habitat Guide, No.3, 1976.
Excerpt from the Habitat Exhibit catalogue, 1976.
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