The Visible: Element of the Social

Now Published in Frontiers in Sociology | Sociological Theory

water

Abstract. In the context of a social-theoretical take on the link between social life and visibility, this paper invites to shift the focus from visibility phenomena to “the visible”. A theory of visibility, it is submitted, must be constructed as a theory of the medium. In opposition to visibility as a set of formal relations, what the visible brings to the fore is the existence of a mid-term, a connective tissue. Also, if a theory is a prelude to a science, then a theory is needed that makes possible to measure the visible in itself. The development of an “intrinsic” theory of the visible, one capable of generating its own variables and constants, along with the conceptual space for their articulation, is retrieved through the joint contributions of surface theories (Simmel, Goffman, Portmann) and intensity theories (Deleuze, Thom). The piece presents a set of notions that could be of use to analyze the fiber of the visible and the trajectories occurring in the visible, in view of laying out a series of laws of the visible.

Available at : https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsoc.2017.00017/full

& a Related Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtK0nfA5r50&t=1s

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Urban Walls. Political and Cultural Meanings of Vertical Structures and Surfaces

An edited Volume by Andrea Mubi Brighenti & Mattias Kärrholm. Contracted by Routledge. Forthcoming in 2018.

Post no dreams

Artwork Courtesy of John Fekner ©1978

In recent years, an increasing number of separation walls has been built around the world. Walls built in urban areas are particularly striking in that they have exacted a heavy toll in terms of human suffering. At the same time, however, homeless and displaced people, unprotected by any walls, often terrorised by irregular militias or evicted by the state police, have likewise endured terrible ordeals. From time to time, walls are invoked, promised, contested, challenged, struggled over. They can be protective, but the protection they grant is always selective to a significant degree. Not only does the fundamental ambivalence of walls seems intrinsic, but the spatial functioning cannot be reduced to a black-and-white picture – walls as either simply ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This collection invites to inquiry into the complexities of the social life of walls. Urban and urbanised spaces are here observed as veritable laboratories of wall-making, places where their consequences become most visible. In perspective, the essays collected here also invite to consider how urban walls today extend into media spaces, drawing a complex geography of separation, connection, control and resistance.

 

Table of Contents

Introduction. Andrea Mubi Brighenti & Mattias Kärrholm, The Life of Walls – In Urban, Spatial And Political Theory

Part I. The Politics of Urban Walls

Alison Young, On Walls in the Open City

Florine Ballif, Dismantling Belfast Peacelines. New physical arrangements in amidst conflict

Pete Chambers, Walling Through Seas. The Indian Ocean, Australian border security, and the political present

Claudio Minca & Alexandra Rijke, Walls, walling and the immunitarian imperative

Pedro Victor Brandão & Andrea Pavoni, Screening Brazil: Footnotes on a Wall

Part II. Cultures of Walls

Ella Chmielewska, Afterimages of Warsaw. Of Walls and Memories

Emma Nilsson, Wall Terrains. Architecture, body culture and parkour

Karin Grundström, Gating housing in Sweden: Walling in the privileged, walling out the public

Sabina Andron, The Right to the City Is the Right to the Surface: A Case for a Surface Commons

Jérôme Denis & David Pontille, The Multiple Walls of Graffiti Removal. Maintenance and Urban Assemblage in Paris

Lachlan MacDowall, Walls as Fleeting Surfaces. From Bricks to Pixels, Trains to Instagram

 

 

 

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Domestic Territories and the Little Humans (with Mattias Kärrholm)

Understanding the Animation of Domesticity

Now Published in Space & Culture

Fig.01.Ongon

A Mongolian Ongon

 

Abstract. Domesticity is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. In this piece, we approach it from the point of view of a general theory of territories. To do so, we attempt to tackle simultaneously the ecological and spiritual dimensions of home by attending the expressive dimension of domesticity. We emphasise that the expressiveness of home inherently includes the register of the familiar as well as that of the unfamiliar (Freud’s unheimlich). The constant negotiations between these two registers can be appreciated as carried out ‘at the limits of control’. To highlight this fact, we focus on the case of the ‘little humans’, miniature humanoid creatures well attested in traditional mythologies and folk tales across different civilisations. Drawing from anthropological and ethnographic literature, yet with a leading interest in social-spatial theorising, we seek to untangle the relations between humans and the ‘little humans’ – these ‘elusive others’ living with us – in order to clarify the deep meanings ingrained in domestic territories.

Keywords: domestic territories; territoriology; little humans; limits of control; parasites; crowds; animism.

 

TOC
Introduction: Inquiring into domestic expressions
The elusive others living with us
Patterns of relations and the limits of control
Conclusions
Olaus Magnus Historia om de nordiska folken

The Swedish Tomte by Olaus Magnus (1555)

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Discussing Debt and Indebetedness with Jean-Clet Martin

asservir-par-la-dette-innsbruck

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An interview with Elijah Anderson

anderson_600x400_122315

From the iconic ghetto to the cosmopolitan and beyond (with Chiara Bassetti)

Interview

now published in Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa

 

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Territoriologia e nomadologia

Questioni e ipotesi per una scienza dei territori

poster-territoriologia-25-ottobre-2017

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Questioni aperte sull’abitare alpino contemporaneo

(with Cristina Mattiucci) in Progetto Città-Valli, Quaderno n. 1 – ESSERE CITTADINI IN MONTAGNA

brighenti-mattiucci-2017-questioni-aperte

 

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Climbing the City. Inhabiting Verticality Outside of Comfort Bubbles (with Andrea Pavoni)

NOW PUBLISHED in Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability

Courtesy & Copyright: Vitaliy Raskalov | Ontheroofs.com

Courtesy & Copyright: Vitaliy Raskalov | Ontheroofs.com

 

Abstract. Over the last couple of decades, urban sports have been studied – as well as, in many cases, celebrated – as critical forms of using urban space. Urban climbing, a practice also known as ‘street bouldering’, ‘buildering’, ‘structuring’, and ‘stegophilia’, has been much explored in this vein. While we acknowledge the importance of the theoretical move consisting in bringing to light the political and playful dimensions of the urban spatial experience, in this piece we would like to focus on a slightly different question. Rather than emphasising the political of playful import of urban climbing, we propose a theoretical apprehension of it as a powerful means to probe and understand the finest constitution of urban environments and, more amply, urban morphology. By doing so, we wish, on the one hand, to zoom in as closely as possible onto the actual bodily practice of climbing, and, on the other, to attend its methodological implications in terms of a reflection on bodily techniques in the context of a natural history of the city. We describe urban climbing as a peculiar corporeal operation carried out at and, more precisely, on the limits of environmental control. As a place-maker, the climber inhabits a limit, a plane of contingency whose coordinates lie at some point between the necessary and the arbitrary. In conclusion, the article suggests that, by highlighting the meaning of inhabiting a vertical open space of a peculiar kind, a close-up study of urban climbing might help to develop contemporary urban theory.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17549175.2017.1360377

 

Keywords: urban theory; urban climbing; urban environment; inhabiting; bodily urban practice; object/environment relations; compositional techniques

  • TOC
  • Introduction
  • 1. The universe in a single hold
  • 2. Beyond the orthogonal plan: inhabiting verticality
  • 3. How to meet Time in time
  • 4. The whole wall, all over the city
  • Conclusions
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City of Unpleasant Feelings – Stress, Comfort and Animosity in Urban Life (with Andrea Pavoni)

Now out in Social & Cultural Geography

Abstract. The image of the city as a stressful place is an evergreen topic. In this article we review the imagination of urban stress, starting from Simmel’s classic thesis that the modern city is an unavoidably psychic-stimulating environment potentially leading to stimuli overload. City dwellers are then supposed to counter stimuli overload with a series of adaptation strategies. However, the ways in which these phenomena can be conceptualised are varied. Historically, a shift of emphasis seems to have occurred from the classic conceptualisation of hyperaesthesia to the contemporary preoccupations with the design of comfortable atmospheres. Such atmospheres are, in fact, comfort bubbles. In the article we tackle the aspirations and predicaments of such engineered atmospheres. In particular, we build on Sloterdijk’s argument that, ultimately, bubbles fail to do away with stress: whereas for Simmel stress anaesthetised urbanites, Sloterdijk has pointed out that, rather, comfort itself stresses them. To better tackle the magmatic stratum of dissatisfaction that seems so coessential to urban life, in the final part of the article we focus on the notion of animosity. We suggest to conceptualise it as a type of disquiet that cannot be reduced to established recognisable interaction formats.

Keywords: Urban Stress; Urban Feelings; Urban Atmospheres; Atmospheric Engineering; Animosity

Pre-print PDF – stress-comfort-animosity

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Tendencies in Architectural and Urban Research: Focusing on Everyday Life

emporia mall hyllie

A seminar at http://resarc.se/courses/index.html, including lecture and workshop with PhD Students

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השליטה של מי הטריטוריה הזו? על בני אדם, חיות, והצורך לסמן את גבולות

An interview with Tali Hatuka originally published in Hebrew at http://urbanologia.tau.ac.il/human-animal-territories/

 

TH. So, Andre, can you tell me about your project, about territories and what are the key ideas? I mean how do you address the whole concept of territories? Let’s…you know what, what is “territory” for you?

Read More »

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FROM VISIBILITY TO THE VISIBLE. A SOCIAL-THEORETICAL EXPLORATION

A Lecture delivered at Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt. Vortrag.

+ info | https://www.aau.at/event/from-visibility-to-the-visible-a-social-theoretical-exploration/

Full video here (a bit boring, though) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtK0nfA5r50&t=1s

poster_lecture_andrea-mubi-brighenti

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Airspacing the City

Where Technophysics meets Atmoculture
(with Andrea Pavoni)

Credit | http://www.thebrandingjournal.com/2014/07/airbnbs-consistent-rebrand-focuses-sense-belonging-community/

Credit | http://www.thebrandingjournal.com/2014/07/airbnbs-consistent-rebrand-focuses-sense-belonging-community/

In this paper, we seek to show how the notion of technophysics can be applied to better understand the experience of contemporary urbanism. We argue that technophysics exists in dynamic relation to an atmoculture of urban space, whereby the technological and the cultural meet on a deeply affective-atmospheric terrain. Contemporary technophysics and atmoculture collaborate in the quest for comfort and the flight from its antonyms (stress, unease, and fear), but they are also riddled with tensions and contradictory outcomes …

PDF Version

 

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The Visible and the Rhythmic.Visualising Rhythms in Urban and Regional Research

Lecture at GSSI Social Sciences Doctoral Programme in Urban Studies and Regional Sciences, L’Aquila

visib_rhytm

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On Walls – Stubborn and Ambiguous Artefacts…

Talk to Borders, Walls and Boundaries. The Future of European Integration

Symposium organised by Paul Blokker & Debora Spini

Friday 24 March at Syracuse University in Florence

BordersWallsBoundaries

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Urban Animals – Domestic, Stray and Wild

Notes from a bear repopulation project in the Alps

by Andrea Mubi Brighenti & Andrea Pavoni

Forthcoming in Society & Animals

1410431752_orsa-daniza

The bear Daniza with her two cubs, in summer 2014

Abstract. This piece explores ‘domesticity’ as a social territory defined by the relationship it entertains with the conceptual and material space of ‘the wild’. The leading research question can be framed as follows: do these two spaces stand in opposition to each other, or are more subtle relations of co-implication at play? As we enquiry into the domestic and the wild, a richer conceptual map of notions is drawn, which also includes the public, the common, the civilised and the barbarian. The case study that illustrates this dense intermingling of categories is offered by the case of Daniza, a wild brown bear introduced in the Brenta Natural Park on the Italian Alps in the 2000s, who repeatedly came into unexpected, accidental contacts with humans. Declared a ‘dangerous animal’, Daniza was controversially killed by public authorities in 2014, officially in an attempt to capture her with anaesthetising bullets, but in a way that still leaves doubts about the degree of voluntariness of the killing. The piece argues that the domestic and the wild constitute two semiotic-material domains constantly stretching into each other without any stable or even clear boundary line, and elaborates a series of corollaries for studying animals in urban contexts.

Keywords: Domesticity; Domestication; Wildness; Bears; Urban Animals; Territorial Governance

 

TOC

Introduction – Domesticity as Urban Prolongation

  1. Animal Governance, Domestication, and Classification
  2. Locating the Wild in the Urban
  3. Domesticity, Domestication and Civilisation
  4. The Unlucky Case of Bear Daniza
  5. Which Sort of Wild?
  6. The Barbarian

Conclusions

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The social life of measures

Burroughs-noMetrics

Now published in Theory, Culture & Society

Abstract

Issues of measure and measurement, and their relation to value and values, are of concern in several major threads in contemporary social theory and social research. In this paper, the notion of ‘measure-value environments’ is introduced as a theoretical lens through which the life of measures can be better understood. A number of points are made which represent both a continuation and a slight change in emphasis vis-à-vis the existing scholarship. First, it is argued that the relation between measure and value is necessarily circular – better, entangled. Second, a conceptualisation of measures as territorialising devices is advanced. Third, importance is given to the fact that measures are not simply tools in our hands, they are also environments in which we live. Fourth, attention is drawn to the fact that the unit (n=1) is not just a quantitative happening among others, but is qualitatively distinct.

The Social Life of Measures (pre-print version)

 

 

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Expressive Measures: An Ecology of the Public Domain

Graffiti and Street Art_Front-Cover_72dpi

Published in Graffiti and Street Art. Reading, Writing and Representing the City.
Edited by Konstantinos Avramidis, Myrto Tsilimpounidi. London: Routledge, 2017.

https://www.routledge.com/Graffiti-and-Street-Art-Reading-Writing-and-Representing-the-City/Avramidis-Tsilimpounidi/p/book/9781472473332

Paginated pdf version

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The Excruciating Work of Love…

subjectivation

On Foucault’s Kehre towards the Subject

A chapter in Andreas Oberprantacher & Andrei Siclodi (Eds.) Subjectivation in Political Theory and Contemporary Practices

http://www.palgrave.com/br/book/9781137516589

http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-51659-6_3

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La massa nella teoria sociologica classica e contemporanea / Crowds in classical and contemporary sociological theory

An essay from 2008, now freely available here – http://qds.revues.org/892

 

Posted in Canetti, multiplicities | Comments closed

Three Presents (with Mattias Kärrholm)

On the multi-temporality of territorial production and the gift from John Soane

Published in Time & Society

ThreePresents

Abstract

Territoriality has primarily been seen as a spatial rather than temporal phenomenon. In this paper, we want to investigate how time functions in territorialising processes. In particular, we are attracted by the multi-temporality that is co-present in each process of territorialisation (i.e. processes in which time and space are used as means of measure, control, and expression). The article is divided into two main parts. In the first part we draw inspiration from Gilles Deleuze’s book Logic of Sense, as well as from authors such as Simmel, Whitehead, Benjamin and Jesi, in order to articulate three different types of the present (Aion, Kronos and Chronos). In the second part we move to a short case study of the collector John Soane and the establishment of his house-museum. The case is used to exemplify how these three presents can be used to discuss and temporal aspects of territorialisation in general, and the production of a specific sort of territory – the house-museum as a new building type – in particular.
Keywords

Territorial Production; Temporality of the Present; Aion, Kronos, Chronos; Collectionism; House-museum

Sir John Soane's Museum, The Dome Area (photograph by courtesy of Jesper Magnusson)

Sir John Soane’s Museum, The Dome Area (photograph by courtesy of Jesper Magnusson)

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Beyond Rhythmanalysis (with Mattias Kärrholm)

Photo courtesy | Jesper Magnusson

Photo courtesy | Jesper Magnusson

Abstract. The recent, rich scholarship on rhythms proves that rhythmanalysis is extremely important and helpful as a sensitising attitude and a research technique. Despite its increasing recognition, rhythmanalysis has not yet become a proper science as its proponents had hoped. In this article we argue that rhythmanalysis could benefit from being further developed and integrated into a wider science of territories. What we need to attain is not simply a recording, capturing or description of rhythms; instead, the real goal is to capture the life of rhythms as they enter territorial formations. In other words, we invite to bring a neo-vitalistic conception into the social-scientific understanding of the relation between rhythms and territories. More specifically, we suggest that the notion of rhythm could be explored not only in terms of the recurrent patterns of association it defines, but also with essential reference to the intensive situations and moments it generates and, in the end, territorialises. As a case study to highlight this, we focus on a particular territorial sort, the urban playground.

 

Keywords. Science of Territories; Social Rhythms; Rhythmanalysis; Urban Playgrounds; Territorial intensities

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Passeur Theory

Lisa & Hans Fittko, passeurs…

Lisa & Hans Fittko, passeurs…

In http://www.losquaderno.professionaldreamers.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/losquaderno41.pdf

 

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Sometimes, an underground class…

underground class

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Onore, sacro, intensità. Per una sociologia del timotico

Pubblicato in La società degli individui, n. 56, anno XIX, 2016/2

A un primo sguardo, onore e dignità sembrano opporsi come l’arcaico e il moderno. In questo senso, la missione che il pensiero moderno, “democratico”, si auto-attribuisce è di sconfiggere e superare una regolazione sociale di tipo aristocratico. L’onore viene così considerato da un’ampia gamma di pensatori moderni come retaggio di forme tribali, particolariste ed elitarie di interazione sociale, a cui viene contrapposta una nuova forma morale universalista e democratica, quella della dignità. Tale, in breve, è il sogno kantiano che Rawls (2000: 328) ha denominato “aristocrazia di tutti”. Ma, come la stessa espressione paradossale lascia intravedere, il rapporto tra onore e dignità è estremamente più complesso di una semplice antitesi.

pdf version

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