Fall 2023 - GEOG 364 D100

Cities and Crisis (4)

Class Number: 3634

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Oct 6, 2023: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Oct 11 – Dec 5, 2023: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 10, 2023
    Sun, 11:59–11:59 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Sharon Luk
    Office: RCB 7139
    Office Hours: Tuesdays, 12:30-1:30pm (in-person at study lounge in front of HCC 2400) and by appointment (zoom or in-person at RCB)
  • Prerequisites:

    At least 45 units, including GEOG 100.



An examination of urban geographies of crisis, concentrating on what crisis is, what it is used for, how it is differentially experienced, and how it is distributed unevenly. Case studies of environmental, economic, social, and political crises are the main focus. The course concludes by addressing the future(s) of cities.


With privileged (but not exclusive) focus on the state of California, students will have the opportunity to learn and practice approaches to contemporary cultural studies that combine geographic, historical, and textual research and analysis to investigate social crisis. Specifically, this class will introduce students to these methods as they develop deeper understanding of the following key questions:

• How do dominant practices of modern development, consumption, and accumulation compel social crisis? In this context, how can we understand cities as “stretched places” that are constantly made and remade in relation to other struggles and communities across scales?

• How do regimes of confinement serve as spatial responses to crises of uneven development across rural and urban geographies? What role do contemporary prisons and policing play in public life and infrastructure? How do various modes of confinement define the values, norms, and institutions that anchor the nation-state and its flagships of wealth?

• What is racism? How does it facilitate the distribution of life opportunities and mass suffering in the context of modern development and its collateral catastrophes? In this context, how do language and culture operate as historical forces, shaping our chances of life and death? How do communities engage in cultural production to reproduce, disrupt, and/or transform existing social and material relations that organize, and are organized by, partition?

Note: There will be tutorials in the first week of class.


Keeping to ancestor Yuri Kochiyama’s insight, that “our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society,” and in pursuit of the questions above, students will:

  1. Acquire a general understanding of the infrastructural conditions undergirding the creation, dynamics, and stakes of contemporary place-based struggles;
  2. Adopt analytical tools to begin investigating the intersections of space, race, and war in the complex and heterogeneous processes of community development;
  3. Articulate and synthesize through writing the broader arguments presented in our course texts, as they delimit problems that continue to shape critical race and urban studies; and
  4. Practice methods of problem-posing education to question the ways knowledge itself works and, concurrently, to think dynamically and creatively as social/historical contexts change.


  • Attendance and Participation 10%
  • Reading Presentation 10%
  • Three writing assignments (10% each) 30%
  • Final Paper 25%
  • Soundtrack Project 25%



Cases of emergency may require students at any time to have reliably good internet connection, webcam, microphone, headphones (optional).  Please contact the instructor as soon as possible for support accessing any of these requirements through the appropriate SFU resources available to all students.


1) Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
Publisher: Review Press/Lawrence Hill Books
Print ISBN: 9781556520747, 1556520743

· Is this title available on VitalSource? Yes
*Please note: any edition of this title from any preferred vendor is acceptable, and e-book is also available electronically through SFU Library

2) All other required course materials available on course canvas page


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.