HIGHRISE, published by Firefly Books

2019 | 80-page hardcover book, for youth | Co-authored with Kristy Woudstra

Adapted from the Emmy-winning, multimedia, interactive documentary of the same name, HIGHRISE is an in-depth exploration of the world’s highrises and the people who live inside them.

From the multi-storey dwellings of Ancient Rome to the soaring glass skyscrapers of today, humans have used highrises for thousands of years to house the poor, protect the rich, and sometimes narrow the gap between the two. HIGHRISE first examines the history of vertical living in a 20-page chapter on the origins, technological triumphs, social failures and future of the highrise. The book then invites young readers into homes around the world to learn about 10 cities and hear stories that capture what life is like in these diverse places.

In addition to being windows on different cultures and experiences, the stories from global cities cover important and, at times, challenging issues that residents must face – from a young mother in the West Bank who cannot visit her parents in Gaza, to an LGBTQ+ activist in China who must hide her sexual orientation from her family. HIGHRISE is a bold and unique volume that illuminates life on our urban planet like never before.

Digital Lives in the Global City: Contesting Infrastructures

2020 | UBC Press | 308-page softcover | Edited by Deborah Cowen, Alexis Mitchell, Emily Paradis, and Brett Story, with a forward by Katerina Cizek

Digital Lives in the Global City is a collection of academic essays inspired by and expanding on the themes and ideas of the NFB HIGHRISE project. Deborah Cowen and Emily Paradis, two of the co-editors of this book, were co-creators of Universe Within, and inspired the very development of HIGHRISE in the early days.

Digital technologies have changed the world, transforming how, where, and when we communicate, love, learn, re/create, produce, distribute, and consume. Digital infrastructures connect people and places across vast distances, yet they also extend the working day into personal time and space, increasing the power of financial institutions, and enhance state and corporate surveillance capacities.

Digital Lives in the Global City examines the entanglements of urban life, investigating how urban land, governance, and the economy are being contested and remade by advancing communication technologies. How do digital infrastructures influence complex human intimacies and perspectives? What does this mean for citizenship and political life in the city?

Emerging from a multi-year partnership between scholars, documentary filmmakers, and communities, Digital Lives in the Global City intersperses critical scholarship with a series of provocative short works from activists, artists, and citizens. Moving beyond the so-called smart cities of the global north, leading thinkers engage with a wide range of issues wrought by digital infrastructure: struggles over unsafe and illegal buildings in Mumbai, the conditions of migrant work in Singapore, the question of digital debt in Toronto, and targeted policing in New York. This nuanced exploration reveals the profound connections between digital technologies and the social life of global cities.

Tackling important contemporary issues, this accessible book will speak to a wide public audience with interest in urban culture as well as to scholars of geography, media studies, architecture, cultural studies, science and technology studies, urban studies, and women and gender studies.