Sociology Colloquia Series

The overarching goal of the Sociology Colloquia Series is to build intellectual engagement and community in our department for faculty and graduate students alike. 

For the 2017-2018 academic year, the colloquia committee will be focusing on the following three types of events: those in which we share our own research; those in which we invite outside speakers whose work is related to the research interests of the department; and brown-bag professionalization workshops for graduate students.

    Fall Quarter

  • Is the World Urban?

    Monday, October 23, 2017
    Time: TBD
    Location: TBD

    In what sense is the 21st century world "urban"? In this lecture, critical urban theorist Neil Brenner critiques contemporary ideologies of the "urban age," which confront this question with reference to the purported fact that more than 50% of the world's population resides within cities. Against such demographic, city-centric understandings, Brenner excavates Henri Lefebvre's (1970) notion of generalized urbanization for conceptual and methodological insights into the 21st century planetary urban condition. He argues that the geographies of urbanization can no longer be conceptualized exclusively with reference to cities, metropolitan regions or even megalopolises, but today encompass diverse patterns and pathways across the planetary sociospatial landscape, from Manhattan to the Matterhorn, from the Pearl River Delta to Mount Everest, from the Nile River valley to the Pacific Ocean. This variegated urban fabric must become the focal point for new approaches to urban theory, strategies of collective intervention and imaginaries of built environments. Building on his ongoing research with Christian Schmid of the ETH Zurich, Brenner proposes a series of methodological strategies through which to analyze emergent landscapes of planetary urbanization.

    Graduate Student Seminar
    Tuesday, October 24, 2017
    Time: TBD
    Location: TBD

    Following the campus discussion Is the World Urban?, Neil Brenner (Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design) will discuss with graduate students the following readings: Debating Planetary Urbanization: for an Engaged Pluralism; The Hinterland, Urbanised? and Elements for a New Epistemology of the Urban co-authored with Christian Schmid. 

    Neil Brenner is Professor of Urban Theory at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he teaches critical urban theory, urbanization and sociospatial theory and works closely with architects, landscape architects, planners and cartographers to develop new approaches to understanding, representing and influencing contemporary worldwide urban transformations. Brenner is the editor of several volumes on the need for a critical approach to urban questions and author of several book-length collections of which some are published in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Chinese. His most recent books are New Urban Spaces: Urban Theory and the Scale Question (Oxford University Press, 2018); Critique of Urbanization (Bauwelt Fundamente Series / Birkhäuser Verlag, 2016); and Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization (editor; Jovis, 2014). In 2014, Brenner was selected as a Thompson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher (  Based on Web of Science data, his publications were ranked among the top 1% most cited globally in the general social sciences between 2002 and 2012. Find more information at