Contested Cities and Human Rights

4th talk on Pandemic Resilient Cities with Prof. Camillo Boano, Dr. Ayesha Ahmed and Amani Alshaaban


A collaboration with with Emergency Architecture & Human Rights (EAHR), WHO and Think-Fast: A collective urban response to COVID-19.Contested Cities and Human rights | Talk 04 The ongoing global health crisis has enacted a state of emergency by national and local authorities manifested in forcing and imposing national wide lockdowns, intensifying surveillance, a “big data analysis a high presence of police and military in our cities.

Even though these measures are taken to contain the spread of the virus, in fragile contexts they have served authoritarian systems and gave them the opportunity to tighten their hold on power and exploit already marginalized groups, and extensively practice the power of the police on the ground. At the same time, these measures are providing an opportunity to reshape the power dynamics among non-state actors in fragile contexts. In this talk, we are focusing on the contexts where COVID-19 is seen as an additional layer of the threat to the existing political unrest, focusing on how can we read through urban contestation and fragility during the Pandemic, and looking at the new shifts in conflict dynamics and violence caused by COVID-19.


Prof. Camillo Boano:
He is Professor of Urban Design and Critical Theory at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) in UCL and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the Inter-University Department of Science, Project and Territory Policies, in Politecnico di Torino in Italy. He is Co-Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory. Camillo’s research has centred on the complex encounters between critical theory, radical philosophy and urban design processes, specifically engaging with informal urbanizations, urban collective actions, as well as crisis-generated urbanisms with a specific focus on migration, borders and the urban project.

Dr Ayesha Ahmed:
She is a lecturer in global health at St George’s University of London and honorary lecturer at UCL's Institute for Global Health. She specializes in mental health, trauma, and gender-based violence during conflict and humanitarian crises and has ongoing projects developing trauma therapeutic interventions using traditional storytelling ( as well as providing expert reports for asylum seeker cases in the UK.

The talk is moderated by the Co-founder of Think-Fast: A collective urban response to COVID-19, Amani Alshaaban.

The series of talks will focus on the role and position of Architects and Planning Practitioners in preparing for Pandemic Resilient Cities where basics such as access to safe housing, space, clean air, food and water is not considered a privilege but a basic Human Right.

While everyone will be affected by the challenges emerging from the current crisis, the impact is hitting hard on the most vulnerable ones: the elderly population, migrants, displaced populations, slum dwellers and the so-called ‘low-skilled’ workforce, who rely solely on their everyday income. However, these vulnerabilities aren’t new and were not merely caused by the Pandemic, but gradually accumulated by multiple political, economic, social and spatial factors, that reduced our preparedness for such a scenario and left Millions of people vulnerable to health crises and disasters.