Urban Cosmopolitics

Urban Cosmopolitics : Agencements, assemblies, atmospheres

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Invoking the notion of `cosmopolitics' from Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers, this volume shows how and why cities constitute privileged sites for studying the search for and composition of common worlds of cohabitation. A cosmopolitical approach to the city focuses on the multiple assemblages of human and nonhuman actors that constitute urban common worlds, and on the conflicts and compromises that arise among different ways of assembling the city. It brings into view how urban worlds are always in the process of being subtly transformed, destabilized, decentred, questioned, criticized, or even destroyed. As such, it opens up novel questions as to the gradual and contested composition of urban life, thereby forcing us to pay more explicit attention to the politics of urban assemblages.

Focusing on changing sanitation infrastructures and practices, emerging forms of urban activism, processes of economic restructuring, transformations of the built environment, changing politics of expert-based urban planning, as well as novel practices for navigating the urban everyday, the contributions gathered in this volume explore different conceptual and empirical configurations of urban cosmopolitics: agencements, assemblies, atmospheres. Taken together, the volume thus aims at introducing and specifying a novel research program for rethinking urban studies and politics, in ways that remain sensitive to the multiple agencies, materialities, concerns and publics that constitute any urban situation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 250 pages
  • 159 x 235 x 22.86mm | 499g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1 Line drawings, black and white; 12 Halftones, black and white; 13 Illustrations, black and white
  • 1138813400
  • 9781138813403

Table of contents


1. Introducing urban cosmopolitics: Multiplicity and the search for a common world
Ignacio Farias & Anders Blok

Section 1: Agencements

2. Saving (in) a common world: Cosmopolitical instances from a low budget urbanities perspective
Birke Otto & Alexa Farber

3. Infrastructural becoming: sanitation, cosmopolitics and the (un)making of urban life at the margins
Michele Lancione & Colin McFarlane

4. Im/mutable im/mobiles: From the socio-materiality of cities towards a differential cosmopolitics Michael Guggenheim

Section 2: Assemblies

5. Exploring urban controversies on retail diversity. An inquiry into the cosmopolitics of markets in the city
Alexandre Mallard

6. Manifestations of the Market: Public Audiences, and the Cosmopolitics of Voice in Buenos Aires Nicholas D'Avella

7. The politics and aesthetics of assembling: (un)building the common in Hackney Wick, London
Isaac Marrero-Guillamon

8. Matters of sense: pre-occupation in Madrid's popular assemblies movement
Adolfo Estalella & Alberto Corsin Jimenez

Section 3: Atmospheres

9. The aesthetic composition of a common memory: Atmospheres of revalued urban ruins
Hanna Katharina Goebel

10. The cosmopolitics of `niching'. Rendering the city habitable along infrastructures of mental health care
Milena D. Bister, Martina Klausner & Joerg Niewoehner

11. Water and Air: Territories, tactics and the elemental textility of urban cosmopolitics
Manuel Tironi & Nerea Calvillo


12. Whose urban cosmos, which urban cosmopolitics? Assessing the route travelled and the one ahead
Anders Blok & Ignacio Farias
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Review quote

Urbanã Cosmopoliticsã offers a new way of thinking and doing urban politics. This theoreticallyã bold and empirically rich collection shows that urban infrastructuresã andã technologies are so much more than the supporting context for urban society andã politics, they animate social life and activate political interest.ã Urbanã Cosmopoliticsã showcases theã relevance of pragmatist and actor-network inspired approaches to understandingã the most complex, multivariate, spatially extensiveã of socio-materialã assemblages - the city. It is a collection of essays that offers novel conceptsã for understanding the effects of urban technologies and expertise, asã well asã templates for alternative visions for assembling and enacting urban worlds.

Jane M Jacobs, Head of Urban Studies, Yale-NUS College and author of Buildings Must Die: A Perverse View of Architecture


The appearances of the urban are insufficientã to knowing how to engage the sheer multiplicity of causation at work in how theã urban takes place.ã Cities are fullã ofã relations among forces and things that have no concern for maintaining anyã identity and meaning whatsoever and go beyond any agenda.ã But as this collection ofã writings orchestrated by Blok and Fariasã demonstrate, we can more judiciously remake ourselves as urban in the ways inã which we co-exist and co-create withã forces and things we can only fractionallyã know.ã Andã this entails a politics distributed across different domains, devices, entitiesã and experiments, which alters theã imagination of the urban as that which aimsã for continuous human transformation. Through specific engagements with newã forms of urban activism,ã infrastructure, economy, everyday practices, builtã environments and planning practices,ã Urban Cosmopoliticsã vitallyã demonstrates new ethical practices ofã recomposing a common world among the manyã forms of agency, objects, infrastructures and collectivities alongside us.

AbdouMaliq Simone, author of City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroadsã
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About Anders Blok

Anders Blok is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and co-author of Bruno Latour: Hybrid Thoughts in a Hybrid World (Routledge, 2011).

Ignacio Farias is Assistant Professor in the Munich Center for Technology in Society and the Faculty of Architecture at the Technische Universitat, Munchen, Germany. He is co-editor of Urban Assemblages: How Actor-Network Changes Urban Studies (Routledge, 2009).
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