Braudels Donkey – Historians and the Mediterranean as a Political Project

Design as Politics’ professor Wouter Vanstiphout has recently contributed to Harvard’s New Geographies magazine about The Mediterranean. The article is now turned into one of our own publications. Available here, especially for you! The Mediterranean region, at the intersection of three continents, is one of the most important areas on earth–culturally, politically, and ecologically. In the article, Wouter looks through the eyes of the French historian Fernand Braudel towards recent political and financial developments, and wonders: what unites the Mediterranean? What can Braudel teach u about the region? And what about our ‘own’ European cities?

Electoral geography by Josse de Voogd

For our graduation studio “We the people – Democracy, Architecture and the City”, we organized a series of workshops and lectures from professionals in the field. For the first session we invited Josse de Voogd – an independent researcher on electoral geography – who gave us a fresh, new perspective on the relation between voting behavior and the built environment: The electoral map of the Netherlands shows a multi-colored mosaic of different regions and neighbourhoods with their specific voting behaviour. Although the Netherlands is an egalitarian country, there is a remarkable segregation when it comes to voting behaviour and to… Read More

Geopolitics by Leopold Kohr

There seems to be only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness. At least, that’s what the Austrian philosopher –and convinced anarchist- Leopold Kohr (1909-1994) believed after witnessing the Spanish Civil war and fleeing Austria after the Nazi takeover in 1938. In his book ‘The breakdown of Nations’ (1957), he argued that geographical size not only influences how countries see themselves, but more important: how they interact. As Kohr saw it, the problem with Europe’s geopolitical situation was the fact that its states were not equal in size, allowing the ‘big ones’ to dominate the rest, ‘the dose… Read More

ZATO – Secret Soviet Cities

The Harriman Institute in New York was recently exhibiting the exhibition: ZATO – Secret Soviet Cities during the Cold War on the dynamics between politics, urbanism, and cartographic manipulation. Unfortunately we couldn’t go there, but secret cities based on the communist ideology of ‘the Party’, for sure drew our attention. These closed cities or so called ZATO sites (Closed Administrative-Territorial Formation / Zakrytoe administrativno-territorial’noe obrazovanie) were areas for secret military or scientific research and production in the Soviet Empire. Weapons were produced there and medical experiments took place on nearly 250,000 animals to understand how radiation damages tissues and causes… Read More

Exhibition by Malkit Shoshan

Who thinks about the Israeli Palestinian conflict does not directly pictures a zoo and two white donkeys dyed with stripes to look like zebras. Our PHD candidate Malkit Shoshan did, resulting in the exhibition ZOO, or the letter Z, just after Zionism which is currently exposed in the NAiM / Bureau Europa. Her award-winning book ‘The Atlas of Conflict’ about the processes and mechanisms behind the shaping of Israel-Palestine during the past 100 years forms the base of this new project. The exhibition starts with page 437 of the book and unfolds in a fascinating exploration of ideas, snapshots and… Read More

Avoid Ghetto App

There is no such thing as bad publicity, right? Well Microsoft will probably disagree. Their recently registered patent for a new GPS feature was nicknamed the ‘avoid ghetto app’. This new software for smartphones and other portable GPS devices is intentionally meant to help travelers avoiding bad weather, tough terrain and unsafe neighborhoods. It uses a combination of information from maps, weather reports, crime statistics and demographics to determine the most effective route to their final destination. Sounds harmless and even useful, but Steve Ballmer (Here in Nova Collegetour) and friends are now being accused of potential racism and reinforcing stereotypical… Read More

And now for something completely different: Urbicide. Violence not only against city dwellers, but against urbanity itself. Read this: an article on US army activity in Sadr City, a district of Baghdad masterplanned by Greek visionary urbanist Constantinos Doxiadis. Obviously, destroying urban tissue and erecting huge concrete barriers have become important military tools since the cityscape has become the ultimate battlefield in the 21st century. Please note, by the way, how the Wikipedia-article also lists New Orleans (next to Sarajevo and Zimbabwe) as a victim of urbicide: in this case the violence against urbanity has been fabricated “not by military action but… Read More

Little design, lots of politics: Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi has recently declared his state is going to boldly go where no one has gone before: into the future. All 180,000 Samoans will, very soon, be skipping an entire day, effectively traveling through time. Probably, there will be no December 31st 2011 in Samoa. Ever. Twenty-four hours. Gone. Strangely disappointing though, the underlying reasons are quite mundane (synchronizing with Australia and New Zealand will improve trade) and, admittedly, Samoa did celebrate the 4th of July twice a few decades ago so the country does have a day to spare anyway.  Back to the future… Read More

More radical geography: nuclear testing obsessed Richard L. Miller this time. Pretty self-explanatory, the above map is called “areas crossed by two or more radioactive clouds during the era of nuclear testing in the American Southwest, 1951-62.” Found here. Want to know more? Read this. Or this. Or contact Richard himself to order any of his books: his e-mail address (and a short bibliography) can be found here.

Whoa. Everything you always wanted to know about the Israel-Palestine situation but were afraid to ask: the Atlas of the Conflict. Co-written by  Malkit Shoshan (PhD student of the chair of Design as Poltics), Willem Velthoven (of Mediamatic) and Nat Muller, the book painstakingly maps what seems to be the conflict of conflicts  – it is being represented in over 500 drawings. Mediamatic throws a launchparty december 21st in Amsterdam – speeches by some cool people are included. Click here (PDF!) for a 15 page sample of the atlas.