La production de modernités urbaines « glocales »: Explorant les failles dans le miroir

Translated title of the contribution: The production of « glocal » urban modernities: Exploring the cracks in the mirror

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Cities are-and have always been-highly differentiated spaces expressive of heterogeneity, diversity of activity, excitement, and pleasure. They are arenas for the pursuit of un-oppressed activities and desires, but also ones replete with systematic power, danger, oppression, domination and exclusion. Mediating the tensions between this dialectical twin of emancipation and disempowerment has of course been the bread and butter of urban planners, designers, social engineers, architects and an assorted array of visionaries since the earliest days of urbanisation. Yet, the city-and, in particular, the modern city-does not invite easy taming. In recent decades, parameters of urban life have shifted in new directions and moved rapidly out of the straightjacket in which modernist urban design and managerial urban practices had tried to capture it. This contribution asserts, first, that this new urbanity signals a dramatic re-assertion of the forces of modernity rather than announcing a radically new post-modern figure of the city. In a second part, attention will turn to the new conditions and fissures that infuse contemporary urbanisation. Differentiation and fragmentation at all levels have become the corollary of internationalisation, globalisation and the creeping imposition of a total(ising) commodity culture. The final section of this paper will turn to questions of urban social justice in this new figure of the city. While urban planning and urbanisation during the post-war period became wrapped up in a Rawlsian view of « Justice as Fairness » and framed in largely redistributive terms, the mirage of a just redistributional city and region was shattered to the bone as the geo-politics of capital accumulation took a decisive new route after the cataclysmic transformations of the past two decades. We conclude that the accelerating contradictory dynamics of present day hyper-modern urbanisation open up all sorts of cracks and fissures. The city as the mirror of modernity is fractured, kaleidoscopic and all but coherent. It is exactly in these interstitial « Thirdspaces » that the possibilities for creative intervention and for all manner of innovative urban experimentations reside. It is also in these spaces that issues and practices of justice in the midst of difference, of empowerment in the midst of exclusion and marginalisation, and of pleasurable living are negotiated and enacted. © 2005 Lavoisier, Paris. Tous droits réservés.
Translated title of the contributionThe production of « glocal » urban modernities: Exploring the cracks in the mirror
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)155-176
Number of pages21
JournalGéographie, Economie, Société
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005


  • Emancipation
  • Glocalisation
  • Modernity
  • Urban change
  • Urban justice
  • Urbanisation


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