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Assemblage and critical urbanism

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  • UserDr Colin McFarlane, Department of Geography, Durham University
  • ClockWednesday 26 May 2010, 16:15-17:30
  • HouseRoom 101, Hardy Building.

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This presentation offers a conceptualisation of assemblage as a basis for a distinct form of analysis and orientation to critical urbanism. In particular, it outlines three sets of contributions that assemblage affords for thinking politically and normatively of the city. First, agency: the particular purchase that the distributive and multiple nature of agency within assemblage brings to critical urbanism. There are three concerns here that the agency of assemblage calls forth: distribution, capacities, and power. Second, production: the emphasis assemblage brings to emergence and to the labour of maintenance, which casts light on the contingent ways in which particular urban assemblages are invested in to the exclusion of alternative ways of imagining and living in the city. The concern with production entails consideration of a key element in the constitution of contemporary cities: mobilities, the increasingly rapid production of urbanism through travelling policies, ideas, goods, money and people, and their attendant inclusions and exclusions. Third, imaginary: the politics at work through the imaginary of assemblage itself, as collage, composition, and gathering. I examine two registers of urban imaginary that assemblage sets to work: first, the image of the cosmopolitan city, as the closest approximation in the social sciences to the assemblage idea; and, second, the concern with gathering as a particular form of generative critique, i.e. the production of the city through multiple constituencies, knowledges and voices.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography series.

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