Abstract: The recent, rich scholarship on rhythms, following in the wake of Lefebvre’s book Éléments de rythmanalyse (1992), proves that rhythmanalysis is an important sensitising notion and research technique. Despite its increasing recognition, however, 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 research must attain is, we suggest, not simply a recording, description or analysis of rhythms; instead, the goal is to capture the life of rhythms as they enter territorial formations. A neo-vitalistic conception, in other words, could enrich the standard social-scientific understanding of the relation between rhythms and territories. More specifically, we submit 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. Keywords: Social rhythms, Rhythmanalysis, Synchronisation, Science of territories, Territorial intensities
The vegetative stratum is a layer of existence that is inherent not only in plants. Here, I propose to look at how vegetative life – or, the vegetative mode of existence – affects cities. The vegetative mode of existence is not focused on activities, routines, achievements. Here appears a city that is not industrial or industrious. When the industrious city retreats, or falls apart, the vegetative stratum becomes visible. The vegetative city is a city without any central nervous system. I suggest the interpretation of the vegetative city as a hopeful manifestation of the urban that only takes place when the time is ripe.
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
Walls and cities have long been partners, but their relationship has been understudied. This creative and important collection takes the social and political work of the urban wall seriously. Rather than a self-evident object, the wall becomes lively, talkative, mobile, and ambivalent, dividing yet also connecting. A valuable and original contribution.
Nicholas Blomley, Professor of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver
It is a remarkable feat for an edited volume to read as cohesively and with such strong focus as Urban Walls. The walls included here (violent walls, but also vulnerable ones; aquatic, immunising, yet totally exposed and medialised walls; affective and playful, immaterial and palimpsestic walls) are marked by the wounds of history, geography and politics that surround them but also that are generated by them. These walls feel as material and fleshy as if we were placing our hand on their surface. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos Professor, Law & Theory, University of Westminster, London
An instructive and compelling examination of walls in their multiple present forms. The emphasis on the material and vertical puts this at the heart of contemporary debates. Historically situated, richly illustrated, and with a view to wider themes as much as empirical detail, this is an important contribution to politics, geography and urban studies.
Stuart Elden, Professor of Political Theory and Geography, University of Warwick
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 …
Abstract. This piece explores the issues of morphogenesis and metamorphosis in socio-spatial formations and social assemblages. The specific key provided here to apprehend the issue of ‘form’ is what we propose to call the ‘animistic moment’ in form-taking processes. We believe that a conceptualisation of animistic moments might help us to better understand, not simply the coming about, but the specific yet elusive power forms are endowed with. The general social-theoretical horizon for the essay is an approach to social collectives as forms of territorialisation and territorial stabilisation. An inquiry into the genesis and the transformation of forms through animistic moments, we suggest, might also be employed in the study of processes of social territorialisation at large.
Keywords: social theory; genesis of forms; formative processes; individuals and social aggregates; socio-spatial formations; animistic moments;
Introduction1. The mystery of appearances2. Metamorphosis and investments into form3. Form-taking and the environment4. The formation of individual collectives5. Animistic moments and the revelations of form6. Territorial production through animationConclusions
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.
Now Published in Frontiers in Sociology | Sociological Theory
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.
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
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.
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.
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?