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Algorithims of Protest: How Protests Change Cities, and How Cities Change Protests

Computing and The Arts Thesis, submitted by Kenia Hale in Spring 2021

Advisors: Theodore Kim and Elihu Rubin

I was inspired to pursue this project by a trip to Santiago, Chile in 2019, during the height of protests across the country. Inspired by the immense changes enacted on the city of Santiago by protestors in 2019, I formed my first research question: how are cities changed and shaped by protests? I am interested in the ways protests shape flows of transportation, the architectural landscape, even sites of social convening. Many cities are forever changed by the actions of protesters, and I am interested in documenting these transformations. 

While further reflecting on the trip, I pondered whether there was something specific about the city of Santiago that enabled the effectiveness of protests and actions we had witnessed. Could these kinds of protests be replicated in New York? In Cleveland? In Hong Kong? This sparked my second research question: how are protests shaped and changed by the cities they inhabit? Are there methods that work better in one city than another? Here, I am interested in the effects of the architectural make-up of a city, how building density, architectural geography, and landscape topology impact spaces of protests.

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