The doingness aspects of the urban

The above stated underlines why we are interested in how alternative practices of knowledge production and commoning make new forms of agencies available in contemporary and future urban development processes. Take 0 – building a proposition for future activities – addresses practices and structures of making a beginning with this motif. We will now outline key aspects of the conceptualisation of the urban as part of the experimental design of the UoN.
The research and teaching programme Urban Design is concerned with the doingness aspects of existing urban situations, the practicalities and operationalization of urban processes. Even if at first sight the focus on the existing seems to be overhauled by the procedural understanding of the urban, we find it helpful to bring to attention a political dimension of the urban: making a beginning of a project through researching into the existing urban situation decentralises perspectives on the subjectification of research and design and works towards representing conditions of capacities for acting in an existing urban situation as a field of organising practices.1 Thinking with Latour we understand urban situations as procedural and assembled around matters of concern.2 This entails the notion that not everything is political, but that every issue in a given situation can be turned into a matter of politics. A conceptualisation of the doingness aspects exhibiting the relation between the urban and politics most suitable for the UoN’s research interest can be found in Rancière’s writing. Following him, political subjectification is dis-identification, removal from the naturalness of place (position to a matter of concern and in space), the opening up of a subject space where anyone can be counted since it is the space where those of no account are counted, where a connection is made between having a part and having no part.3 Dikeç argues that ‘reading Rancière and Arendt together enables one to go beyond a subject-centred understanding of politics as neither postulates given identities as inherently political ones. Their politics emphasises the construction of space – for acting with others, for Arendt, and for setting a stage of dissent, for Rancière. For both thinkers politics is a world-building activity.’4

  1. Michel Foucault, Überwachen und Strafen. Die Geburt des Gefängnisses. Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1975.

  2. Bruno Latour, ‘Why has critique run out of steam? From matters of fact to matters of concern,’ Critical Inquiry 30(2) (2004), 225-248.

  3. Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: politics and philosophy, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1999, 36.

  4. Mustafa Dikeç, ‘Beginners and equals: political subjectivity in Arendt and Rancière,’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 38 (1), 2013, 83.