Between us in the city: Materiality, subjectivity, and community in the era of global urbanization

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Abstract

In this paper I consider the conceptual challenges for subjectivity and community in an era of global urbanisation. The urban environment comprises a complex assemblage of human and nonhuman entities. Urban political subjectivity is thus constituted by a distinctive relation with materiality. This reconceptualisation of the subject comprises a challenge to the classical morphology that has underpinned conceptions of citizenship and community. This morphology has rested on notions of autonomy that are predicated on a separability of the agent from context and community. Global urbanisation challenges the traditional conception of the urban subject as an autonomous citizen. In contrast to classical political morphologies I contend, via Nancy's account of the reticulated multiplicity of being singular plural, that urban political subjectivity is constituted by an ineluctable exposure to alterity that arises through our sharing of that which is 'between us' in the city: the material fabric of the urban environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-481
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Assemblage
  • Citizenship
  • City
  • Community
  • Infrastructure
  • Materiality
  • Subjectivity
  • Urbanisation

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