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Uneven Growth Bibliography

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities holds within its conceptual grasp two vastly different scales: the incomprehensible colossus of the megacity and the small tactics of everyday life by which urban dwellers claim authorship of their homes.

Exploring both scales, this bibliography offers divergent ideas related to the city—among them, spatial justice, the right to the city, participatory design, and the production of space—seen through the interpretive lenses of artists, architects, geographers, anthropologists, political theorists, sociologists, and a Jesuit priest. Nowhere near comprehensive, this collection of writings sets in conversation some of the multiple voices that comment on the contemporary city and its inequalities. Saskia Sassen tracks the broad network of specialized service firms that engage in a “practice of global control,” and AbdouMaliq Simone turns to the provisional local economies of Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, to discover the “city yet to come”; while in Los Angeles, Edward Soja uncovers the “consequential” geographies that function as dynamic forces in the ways that justice and injustice unfold within the city. Behind each book is a constellation of counterarguments, like-minded thinkers, and entire disciplinary languages for describing cities.

The diverse writings listed in this bibliography cohere around the notion of the city not as a fixed form, but rather as a site in constant transformation impelled by spatial, socioeconomic, and political processes. The contemporary city is the site of some of the most asymmetrical and deeply contradictory aspects of capitalism, yet many of the authors presented here share a conviction that a greater investment in its diversity and disorder can help mobilize new alternatives or spark surprising revisions.

Author

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Phoebe Springstubb

Curatorial Assistant, Architecture and Design The Museum of Modern Art Phoebe Springstubb is a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art. At MoMA, she has worked on the exhibitions Le... Read more »
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Uneven Growth Bibliography

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities holds within its conceptual grasp two vastly different scales: the incomprehensible colossus of the megacity and the small tactics of everyday life by which urban dwellers claim authorship of their homes.

Exploring both scales, this bibliography offers divergent ideas related to the city—among them, spatial justice, the right to the city, participatory design, and the production of space—seen through the interpretive lenses of artists, architects, geographers, anthropologists, political theorists, sociologists, and a Jesuit priest. Nowhere near comprehensive, this collection of writings sets in conversation some of the multiple voices that comment on the contemporary city and its inequalities. Saskia Sassen tracks the broad network of specialized service firms that engage in a “practice of global control,” and AbdouMaliq Simone turns to the provisional local economies of Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, to discover the “city yet to come”; while in Los Angeles, Edward Soja uncovers the “consequential” geographies that function...

Show More

Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities holds within its conceptual grasp two vastly different scales: the incomprehensible colossus of the megacity and the small tactics of everyday life by which urban dwellers claim authorship of their homes.

Exploring both scales, this bibliography offers divergent ideas related to the city—among them, spatial justice, the right to the city, participatory design, and the production of space—seen through the interpretive lenses of artists, architects, geographers, anthropologists, political theorists, sociologists, and a Jesuit priest. Nowhere near comprehensive, this collection of writings sets in conversation some of the multiple voices that comment on the contemporary city and its inequalities. Saskia Sassen tracks the broad network of specialized service firms that engage in a “practice of global control,” and AbdouMaliq Simone turns to the provisional local economies of Pikine, a suburb of Dakar, to discover the “city yet to come”; while in Los Angeles, Edward Soja uncovers the “consequential” geographies that function as dynamic forces in the ways that justice and injustice unfold within the city. Behind each book is a constellation of counterarguments, like-minded thinkers, and entire disciplinary languages for describing cities.

The diverse writings listed in this bibliography cohere around the notion of the city not as a fixed form, but rather as a site in constant transformation impelled by spatial, socioeconomic, and political processes. The contemporary city is the site of some of the most asymmetrical and deeply contradictory aspects of capitalism, yet many of the authors presented here share a conviction that a greater investment in its diversity and disorder can help mobilize new alternatives or spark surprising revisions.

Source contents

Beyond Shelter: Architecture and Human Dignity

Beyond Shelter presents twenty-five small-scale case studies across Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the U.S. in which professional teams worked with communities in the aftermath of disasters to devise pragmatic design solutions. The book pointedly asks architects to take greater responsibility in designing for short-term emergencies and to rethink longer-term disaster-resilient strategies....

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“Deep Democracy: Urban Governmentality and the Horizon of Politics”

Anthropologist Appadurai tells the story of the Alliance, a group of nongovernmental organizations in Mumbai. Working with the urban poor, the Alliance organizes housing exhibitions to discuss designs for dwellings that meet the needs of the families who will occupy them; establishes a community-to-community exchange in which the poor conduct their own census; and inaugurates toilet festivals,...

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Actions: What You Can Do with the City (Comment s’approprier la ville)

This catalogue is part of a three-part project by the Canadian Centre for Architecture that also included an exhibition and a website. Identifying the contemporary metropolis as structured by patterns of consumption that are inherently fragile, subject to control, and socially and economically divisive, the catalogue documents a countercurrent of small-scale and plural practices that...

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Cities for People, Not for Profit: Critical Urban Theory and the Right to the City

A response to the recent economic crisis and the still-unfolding repercussions for cities everywhere, Cities for People offers an introduction to critical urban theory and issues an urgent call to shape cities “to human social needs” rather than for profit. Essays by planners, urban theorists, sociologists, and political scientists provide a broad range of interpretations of contemporary urban...

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L’Invention du Quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life)

Everyday practice, de Certeau asserts, is a “multifarious and silent ‘reserve’ of procedures”—a repository of tactics through which the individual is able to reclaim autonomy in the city. He contrasts this with strategies, that is “force-relationships” imposed by institutional structures of power. His investigation of seemingly ordinary everyday activities reveals them to be canny procedures...

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Every Day is for the Thief

In this spare, episodic novel, a young Nigerian doctor returns to Lagos after many years away to rediscover the city. In a series of short chapters, he describes scenes from Internet cafes, traverses the city by its chaotic bus system, witnesses small-scale acts of corruption, and recalls an outbreak of violence at an outdoor market. These vignettes compose a complex yet humane portrait of a...

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“Des Espaces Autres” (Of Other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias)

In this essay, Foucault rescues space from the void, describing it as an active and heterogeneous medium. He introduces the curious idea of the heterotopia—a counter-space that exists outside the usual order of things as a “simultaneously mythic and real contestation of the space in which we live.” Offering examples that range from prisons to temporary fairgrounds, holiday villages to ships at...

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Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life

Moving across disparate geographies ranging from the inner-city streets of Bangkok to social housing complexes in Athens, this collection of essays theorizes what editors Franck and Stevens term “loose space”—the dynamic appropriation of urban landscapes for unexpected uses. The authors are interested in how these spaces “loosen up the dominant meanings of specific sites” to allow “new...

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Splintering Urbanism: Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities, and the Urban Condition

Analyzing the relationship between systems of infrastructure and urban space, this interdisciplinary book provides a critical look at the ways in which electricity, water, roads, telecommunications, and their regulation shape cities. The first half of the book traces the historical framework of public infrastructure, looking at the physical developments and related standardization of services...

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“The Right to the City”

In this brief essay, Harvey revives and expands Henri Lefebvre’s clarion call for the right to the city (see below). He describes urbanization as a process always structured by uneven accumulations of capital, in which large-scale infrastructure projects are used to stabilize and suppress class conflict, from Haussmann’s rebuilding of Paris under Napoleon III to the mass suburbanization of the...

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Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary Cities

This collection of twenty-one essays by anthropologists, scholars, architects, geographers, and artists highlights narratives about the ways in which marginalized city dwellers have reclaimed public spaces. Citing the decrease in conventional public space afforded by plazas and city parks through regulation and conversion into privately operated malls and festival marketplaces, these essays...

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“The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety,” in The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Jacobs’s writings, along with the work of the advocacy planners of the late 1960s and 1970s, mounted a powerful critique of the planning establishment as epitomized by Robert Moses and the postwar urban renewal projects that rebuilt large portions of American cities. Aspects of Jacobs’s work inspire many of the small-scale, community-oriented interventions currently reordering U.S. cities. In...

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“The Right to the City”

Written just prior to the demonstrations of 1968, Lefebvre’s manifesto-essay is “a cry and a demand” for the right to the city. In a series of sketches, the essay condemns what the author sees as the alienating conditions of modern urban life, embodied by rational planning and new towns, and calls for a city that is a collective work emerging from interaction and creative acts by the diverse “...

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Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found

This vivid portrait of Bombay is part ethnographic study and part memoir. Mehta, a journalist and fiction writer, describes a city animated by endless transactions and exchanges, where privacy is in short supply and people make their livelihoods in innumerable, often surprising ways. Bombay’s many subcultures are explored in detailed profiles of, among others, a policeman famous for his...

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Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio de Janeiro and The Myth of Marginality: Urban Poverty and Politics in Rio de Janeiro

In The Myth of Marginality Perlman dismantles a long-standing myth of squatter settlements or shantytowns as marginal spaces. Fieldwork from three areas of Rio de Janeiro—the favela of Catacumba in Rio’s South Zone, the favela of Nova Brasília in the North Zone, and Duque de Caxias, a municipality in the Baixada Fluminense region—portray communities that form an essential part of the urban...

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“Urban Informality: Toward an Epistemology of Planning”

This clearly written essay provides a critical look at two themes that have dominated the discussion of informality in cities of the global south—the supposed crisis of “informal hypergrowth” and the vision of informality as a model of “heroic entrepreneurship.” Roy proposes an alternative view of informality, presenting it as “a series of transactions that connect different economies and...

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The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo

The Global City re-envisions the city as part of a transnational network of information, capital, and people. The economic might of global cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo, Sassen argues, is the result of a counterintuitive process of dispersal and centralization. On the one hand, new communication technologies allow for the dispersal of economic transactions that were once...

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For the City Yet to Come: Changing African Life in Four Cities

Countering a large body of work by government officials and urban planners that measures the success of African cities by how well they align with traditional narratives of development, Simone argues that these cities are sites of functioning or provisional economies as well as deep social networks. The study of this existing knowledge might “act as a platform for the creation of a very...

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Seeking Spatial Justice

Soja intertwines justice, space, and the city to argue compellingly that inequality has a spatial dimension. Drawing on ideas of critical geography—on the notion that specific places within a city confer certain advantages and disadvantages—Soja examines spatial justice through case studies in Los Angeles. Opening with the story of the Bus Riders Union, whose legal victory against the MTA...

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Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991–2011

This ambitious catalogue of essays and one hundred artists’ projects presents a broad cross section of socially engaged practices that conflate art, public space, and everyday life. With a nod to the celebrated 1969 exhibition Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form, the book suggests that a spectrum of activities including debates, performances, and spatial occupations can constitute a “...

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"Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good"

Organized by Cathy Lang Ho, Ned Cramer, and David van der Leer for New York’s nonprofit Institute for Urban Design, which was chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, the exhibition Spontaneous Interventions featured 124 projects that fall within the burgeoning category of interventionist urbanism. Presented in this issue of Architect, which served as the...

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Uneven Growth Bibliography

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Thanks Luis M Castañeda from the suggestion via post's Twitter. Here is an extract from the beginning of Dorota Bizcel's article.

Viewpoint: Self-Construction, Vernacular Materials, and Democracy Building: Los Bestias, Lima, 1984–1987

A stark, dark form intrudes upon the blank, almost white background of the sky (Figure 1). Out of the solid blackness that occupies the entire lower quarter of the image, four upright torsos emerge, melded with their support, looking almost like sculptural busts. The two on the right are frozen in seemingly pensive poses, as their arms appear to be tightly clasped around their chests. The two on the left become nearly indistinguishable from the vertical poles surrounding them. A piece of flapping, torn cloth is stretched between the four forms that extend upward, cutting the picture plane. The image evokes a flattened silhouette of a makeshift, storm-battered sailship, captured cruising against the bright sun. One thing is certain: even if the figures look stoic, the material forms within which they are embedded manifest signs of fatigue, wear, or incompleteness—ripped, twisted, flawed geometries tied with a string. Whether these are pirates or survivors, their destination remains unknown. Perhaps because of the association with the ship and the precariousness of the construction, for me this image points to the quality of a “pirate urbanization,” typical of the exploding metropolises of the so-called Third World.

These “pirates,” imbricated with the imperfect construction, are not urban squatters, who have constituted the major challenge to urban policies all over the planet, but a bunch of young architects who studied at the Lima-based Universidad Ricardo Palma in the early 1980s. Between 1984 and 1987, an amorphous, fluctuating group of students at the university, calling themselves Los Bestias (The Beasts), realized a number of anarchist, informal architectural interventions on campus and in various sites of the Peruvian capital (Figure 2). Because they built them with their own hands, using industrial discards, recycled junk, and cheap, traditional construction materials (such as bamboo cane and reed mats), they earned the nicknames “architects-masons,” “architects with dirty faces,” and “kings of trash.”

The group’s activities occurred during the bloodiest period of the Peruvian Internal Conflict (1980–2000), when the very concept of democracy was under assault as a result of extreme violence unleashed by all sides involved. The armed conflict between the Maoist rebel groups, led by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), on the one hand, and the military forces of the state, on the other, caused irreversible changes in the material and social fabric of Lima. It profoundly affected the lives of ordinary people and the options of young architects alike. Taking the phrase “democracy building” as an architectural metaphor, I trace how the interventions of Los Bestias rearticulated the meaning of the term “democracy.” Through their projects Los Bestias responded to the dwindling possibility of making even a modest life happen amid the escalating war between the Shining Path and the government. Aligning their tactics with the evanescent nature of ordinary, everyday practice and asserting the value of self-construction, the group engaged in a productive effort to generate alternatives or antidotes to the unfolding social disintegration.

The ephemeral experiments and constructions of Los Bestias wedged themselves in between the eclipsing modernism promoted by the state and the rising Limeñan critical regionalism sponsored by a handful of upper-class private investors. On the one hand, the radical affirmation of the grassroots—expressed through actions of self-construction and land invasion—worked against the modernist obsession with centralized planning by experts that drove the career of the president-architect Fernando Belaúnde Terry and the vast majority of his public policies during his fifty-year career. On the other, the collective articulation of the group’s proposals and their engagement with molding some kind of a community sharply...

For more please visit: http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/buildings_and_landscapes/v020/20.2.biczel.html#fig02

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Thanks Luis M Castañeda from the suggestion via post's Twitter. Here is an extract from the beginning of Dorota Bizcel's article.

Viewpoint: Self-Construction, Vernacular Materials, and Democracy Building: Los Bestias, Lima, 1984–1987

A stark,...

Show more »