Hiba Bou Akar is an Assistant Professor in the Urban Planning program at Columbia GSAPP. Bou Akar received her PhD in City and Regional Planning with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and Master in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Bou Akar’s research examines the geographies of planning and war; the question of urban security and violence, focusing on the role of religious political organizations in the making of cities. Her forthcoming book, For the War Yet to Come: Planning Beirut’s Peripheries, examines how Beirut’s post-civil war peripheries have been transformed through multiple planning exercises into contested frontiers that are mired in new forms of conflict. It contributes to planning thought by studying planning practice within a framework of past and anticipated violence. Her first co-edited book, Narrating Beirut from its Borderlines, incorporated ethnographic and archival research with art installations, architecture, graphic design, and photography to explore Beirut’s segregated geographies. Bou Akar’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Wenner- Gren Foundation, and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS). Her work was also supported by a postdoctoral fellowship at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University.
Before joining Columbia GSAPP, Bou Akar taught at Hampshire College and the American University of Beirut. She also worked as an architect and planner and as a research consultant with local NGOs and international UN organizations in the Middle East. She is the co-editor of Jadaliyya Cities, an online electronic journal addressing urban issues in the Middle East region.