The City as Open Source Pedagogy – Alberto Corsín Jiménez

In the article ‘The right to infrastructure’ that appears in Society and Space 32(2) and is open access until 22 May 2014,  Alberto Corsín Jiménez reports on fieldwork that he has been 
carrying out with grassroots and guerrilla architectural collectives in Madrid for the past four years. Towards the end the article, he makes passing reference to an educational project called Ciudad Escuela that he and the collectives had recently embarked on at the time of writing.

Click here for an update on where that exciting initiative is at now. 



Interview with Gastón Gordillo – author of Landscapes of Devils and the forthcoming Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction

gordillo, soc&space interviewGastón Gordillo is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, and the author of several books including Landscapes of Devils: Tensions of Place and Memory in the Argentinean Chaco and the forthcoming Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. He also runs the wide-ranging blog Space and Politics.

Stuart Elden: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview Gastón. You’re a Professor of Anthropology, but your work blends political, historical and ethnographic work, with a strong interest in geographical questions and debates in philosophy and social theory. Could you say something about your academic background and how you came to be interested in these diverse issues?

Gastón Gordillo: Many thanks for the interview Stuart. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to talk about my work at Society and Space. Your question goes to the heart of what I’m trying to do with my research and writing, in terms of blending perspectives from different disciplines. My interest in critical theory and philosophy began when I was an anthropology undergraduate at the University of Buenos Aires in the second half of the 1980s. Argentina was then going through a “democratic spring,” right after the end of the military dictatorship, and the university was then an intellectually effervescent place, with many stimulating theoretical and political debates going on. Partly as a reaction against the asphyxiating political environment I grew up in as a teenager under the military regime, in which the public expression of left-wing ideas or concepts could get you in trouble or simply killed, as an undergrad I was quickly drawn to Marxist theory, which at the time was the dominant paradigm at the university. I had initially decided to study anthropology, like many others at that age, seduced by a romantic image of this discipline as the study of exotic cultures, influenced for instance by Carlos Castaneda’s best-selling books on shamanism. My discovery of Marxist theory and philosophy was a political awakening of sorts, and also gave me tools to better understand my earlier politicization during high-school, when many of my classmates and I were part of an underground student union at the end of the dictatorship. So while I studied anthropology as an undergraduate, my engagement with Marx, Althusser, Adorno, Horkheimer also made me think beyond anthropology. I also had excellent history professors who taught me to appreciate history, and its importance for anthropology.

continue reading here

Biosocial Becomings reviewed

copKim Ward reviews Biosocial Becomings: Integrating Social and Biological Anthropology, a new collection edited by Tim Ingold and Gisli Palsson, Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Volume 32, Issue 2 now out

Issue 2 is now online. Access requires subscription.

Introduction to Henri Lefebvre’s “Dissolving city, planetary metamorphosis” 199 – 202 David Wachsmuth, Neil Brenner
Dissolving city, planetary metamorphosis 203 – 205 Henri Lefebvre
Self-reliance beyond neoliberalism: rethinking autonomy at the edges of empire 206 – 222 Karen Hébert, Diana Mincyte
Gendering fashion, fashioning fur: on the (re)production of a gendered labor market within a craft industry in transition 223 – 239 Norma M Rantisi
Agency, affect, and the immunological politics of disaster resilience 240 – 256 Kevin Grove
Biodiversity, purity, and death: conservation biology as biopolitics 257 – 273 Christine Biermann, Becky Mansfield
Liveability and urban architectures: mol(ecul)ar biopower and the ‘becoming lively’ of sustainable communities 274 – 292
Peter Kraftl
The global as a field: children’s rights advocacy as a transnational practice 293 – 309 Jouni Häkli, Kirsi Pauliina Kallio
Street renaming, symbolic capital, and resistance in Durban, South Africa 310 – 328 James Duminy
Diving with Donna Haraway and the promise of a blue planet 329 – 341 Felicity Picken, Tristan Ferguson
The right to infrastructure: a prototype for open source urbanism 342 – 362 Alberto Corsín Jiménez
Botanical decolonization: rethinking native plants 363 – 380 Tomaz Mastnak, Julia Elyachar, Tom Boellstorff

Interview with Emily Brady on her book, The Sublime in Modern Philosophy: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Nature

SublimeEmily Brady’s The Sublime in Modern Philosophy: Aesthetics, Ethics, and Nature published by Cambridge University Press in 2013, explores the meaning of the concept of the sublime and its implications for metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, and the environment. An historical discussion is provided in the first part of the book, providing a historical survey with a careful reading which begins in the eighteenth century with a special focus on Kant, and followed by Romanticism and John Muir’s wilderness aesthetic. The second part of the book shows the relevance of the concept to contemporary discussions in philosophy such as aesthetics and the arts, and environmental ethics. A full review of this book, by Sandra Shapshay, can be found at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

A member of the Society and Space board, Brady is the author of Aesthetics of the Natural Environment (Edinburgh 2003), the co-author of Environment and Philosophy (Routledge 2000) and the co-editor of Aesthetic Concepts: Essays after Sibley (Oxford 2001), Humans in the Land: The Ethics and Aesthetics of the Cultural Landscape (Oslo Academic Press 2008), and Human-Environment Relations: Transformative Values in Theory and Practice (Springer 2012). She has published numerous articles and book chapters mostly around the topics of aesthetics, ethics, and the environment. Some of her most recent publications include “Imagination and Freedom in the Kantian Sublime” (2013), “Aesthetic Value and Wild Animals” (2014), and “Aesthetic Value, Ethics and Climate Change” (forthcoming 2014). Brady is Professor of Environment and Philosophy at the Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment and an Academic Associate in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. This interview was conducted by Vahid Jafarzadehdarzi, a doctoral student in philosophy at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Vahid Jafarzadehdarzi: Thank you, Professor Brady for doing this interview; it was a pleasure reading your book. You spend a great a deal of time on Kant’s approach to the sublime. You appreciate the way he relates nature, aesthetics, and morality in his view of the concept, and there finds a connection between the self and nature. Why is his view so important in understanding the core meaning of the sublime as you say? What does he do with the eighteenth century reading of the concept?

Emily Brady: Thank you. As I see it, it’s important to reassess Kant’s theory of the sublime – for Kant scholarship as well as for a proper understanding of the history of the sublime and its relevance today. Many interpretations of Kant’s theory argue for a human-centred sublime, where humans appear to recognize their power over nature through an experience of their own freedom or autonomy. I contest this reading of the sublime as self-admiration and show that for Kant, our distinctive positioning with respect to the rest of nature reveals a deep connection to it, as something metaphysically and actually greater than ourselves. There are two other reasons why his theory is especially significant. Kant focuses largely on nature widely understood – human and non-human nature. The overall argument of the book is that the historical and contemporary sublime is largely associated with natural environments. Also, his theory is, arguably, more philosophically rich and sophisticated compared to other early theories of the sublime.

Often, when people discuss Kant’s theory they neglect the many discussions of the sublime that preceded his own. Eighteenth-century aesthetics in Britain is especially interesting and one can see a range of influences on Kant. Once we get a handle on them, interestingly, Kant’s theory appears less original, though insightful enough!

Continue here.

Contested urban spaces and imaginations

Two new urban titles are reviewed on the Open Site:


varga First is Joseph Varga’s Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space: Class Struggle and Progressive Reform in New York City, 1894-1914, published by Monthly Review Press in 2013 and reviewed by Walter Nicholls.









downloadSecond is George Morgan’s review of Phil Cohen’s On the Wrong Side of the Track? East London and the Post Olympics (Lawrence and Wishart, 2013).

Review of Clinical Labor

CLINICAL LABOURMelinda Cooper and Catherine Waldby’s new book Clinical Labor: Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy is reviewed here by Samuel Walker and Adam Mahoney. The volume came out with Duke University Press.

Japanoise reviewed

japaMax Ritts reviews David Novak’s Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation, Duke University Press, 2013.

Further music titles recently reviewed on the Open Site include Rachel Beckles Willson’s Orientalism and Musical Mission and Steven Feld’s Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra.


Frederic Neyrat “The Political Unconscious of the Anthropocene” Interview by Elizabeth R. Johnson

The Political Unconscious of the Anthropocene: A conversation with Frederic Neyrat by Elizabeth R. Johnson

With translation assistance from David B. Johnson

Frédéric NeyratFrédéric Neyrat is a French philosopher and former program director at the Collège International de Philosophie. He is currently a visiting professor at the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While his work largely remains to be translated into English, his writings–which integrate cultural theory, biopolitics and immune-politics, Marxist political economy, and critiques of liberal eco-politics–offer productive intersections with much of the ongoing work in critical theory and human-environment geography in the Anglo world.

His recent work includes books on Heidegger (L’indemne. Heidegger et la destruction du monde, 2008), eco-politics, immuno-politics and catastrophism (Biopolitique des castastrophes, 2008), Antonin Artaud (Instructions pour une prise d’âmes: Artaud et l’envoûtement occidental, 2009), capitalism and ecopolitics (Clinamen: Flux, absolu et loi spirale, 2011), terrorism (Terrorisme: Un concept piégé, 2011), Jean-Luc Nancy (Le communisme existentiel de Jean-Luc Nancy, 2013), and a manifesto for philosophy (Atopies, forthcoming 2014). He is also the author of several essays on ecopolitics and the Anthropocene and is a member of the editorial board at Multitudes. Neyrat maintains the blog Atopies.

Elizabeth Johnson: Your scholarship integrates cultural theory, biopolitics, Marxist political economy and critiques of liberal eco-politics. A segment of critical human-environment geography has for some time been occupied with this confluence of critical theory and eco-politics, but this is perhaps only recently becoming more mainstream in academic scholarship. Could you tell us a bit about your background coming out of France and your work with Multitudes. What commitments ground the synthetic nature of you work?

Frédéric Neyrat: You’re perfectly right to mention the journal Multitudes, which was in the 2000s a real and powerful intellectual laboratory. During this period, it became crystal clear to me that the study of “cognitive capitalism”, that is to say, of contemporary capitalism based on the production and the exploitation of knowledge, was inseparable from a questioning of environmental disasters and of new biopolitical technologies. My book Biopolitics of Catastrophes was devoted to this triple perspective, simultaneously economic, environmental, and biopolitical. Yet the relation between these three dimensions is anything but obvious: how is it possible to reconcile the idea that contemporary power produces and enhances life, that is to say the biopolitical perspective, with environmental studies showing the degradation of the conditions of life? How can we reconcile the euphoric discourse that analyzes capitalism via the notion of “the immaterial” (knowledge, the powerful cooperative web of brains of the “general intellect”, all the concepts coming from Operaismo and post-Operaismo[1]), with the necessity to materially consider the industry of the immaterial and its material ecological footprint? Do these very material feet and supposedly immaterial brains not belong to the same world? I could only answer these questions by invoking, to use an expression from Freud, the “other scene” of biopolitics, economy, and ecology: something that I call – combining Freud, Derrida, Sloterdijk, and Esposito – an immunological unconscious, or the fantasy of an absolute immunization.

Continue reading here

Dallas Rogers on the Sydney Metropolitan Zoning Strategy

Sydney Metropolitan Zoning Strategy

Sydney Metropolitan Zoning Strategy

Dallas Rogers’ article in Society and Space 32(1), “The Sydney Metropolitan Strategy as a zoning technology: analyzing the spatial and temporal dimensions of obsolescence” is available open access until 18 April, 2014. In the article, Dallas demonstrates the deployment of specific spatial and temporal ‘zoning technologies’ by the Sydney metropolitan planning authority and identifies the emergence of a discourse of obsolescence  through these technologies that he argues is leading to the demise of Sydney’s public housing estates.

Housing studies scholar Keith Jacobs offers some thoughts on the piece here, and an audio interview with Geoff Turnbull, spokesperson for Sydney-based local resident group REDWATCH, can be heard here.

For more from Dallas on this topic, see his two recent commentaries, Sydney’s ‘global’ vision bad news for local housing affordability, and Funding the future after the demise of PPPs, and listen to a radio interview here.


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