Princeton Mellon Fellows announce new courses for Spring 2021

Making Home in African Cities: History of Housing, 1800 to the Present

Halimat Somotan, Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow  

One of the basic human needs is housing, yet access to shelter is not a universal right. What does it mean to create a home? How have state policies shaped the residential choices of long-term settlers and newcomers in Africa? This seminar invites students to explore the struggles for housing in African cities from the nineteenth century to the contemporary period. Students will analyze primary and secondary texts (such as films and novels) on the evolution of access to housing in cities, and learn about the impact of colonial and post-independent public health, urban planning, and labor policies on how migrant workers find and secure housing in cities. The course will focus on specific case studies, including family compounds in Lagos and the Soweto townships of Johannesburg.


Living Room: Gender, Difference, and Dissent

Sophie Hochhäusl, Princeton Mellon Fellow in Architecture, Urbanism + the Humanities

How are our own identities constructed in the world, and which categories among gender, sexual orientation, and kinship are fixed? How might some of these become altered by our experiences in the world and modes of making ancestors? How do we personally negotiate these categories in private and public while recognizing difference, intersectionality, and gender fluidity? Where are moments of friction and resistance, that urgently require our imagination to design new forms of being together?

This seminar engages students in an analysis of architectural and urban writing through the lens of queer, feminist, and trans theory focusing on networks of people in the production of space who have organized around issues of gender. The course takes the poetry of American-Caribbean professor, writer, and activist June Jordan as its point of departure, arguing that her concept of “living room” theorizes true places for encounter that provide safe spaces to probe writing and speaking against the imposition of others. A focus on bibliographies (and autobiographies), as well as individual and collective writing assignments, will allow student to approach and reflect on a body of scholarly work while writing from their own identity.


South Asian Migrations in Global Context

Shoshana Goldstein, Princeton Mellon / Princeton Institute for International & Regional Studies Fellow

This course will engage students in the study of South Asian urban migration, including its diverse forms, causes, challenges, as well its cultural, political, economic, and spatial implications for social organization and city planning. Students will investigate international migration and the South Asian diaspora, as well as internal migration, including the challenges of achieving local citizenship for the working poor in cities, and the ongoing divide between rural and urban places as sending and receiving locations in South Asia and the Global South more broadly. Students will learn about the experiences of Bangladeshi migrant workers in Dubai, South Asian diasporas in New York, Toronto, suburban New Jersey, London, Cape Town, Delhi, Karachi and Mumbai, as well as in other cities and regions.