Learning the City. Knowledge and Translocal Assemblage. RGS–IBG Book Series

  • ID: 2250280
  • Book
  • 230 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Learning the City critically examines the relationship between knowledge, learning, and urbanism. It argues both for the centrality of learning for political strategies and for a resurgence of learning that represents a critical opportunity to develop a progressive international urbanism. The author combines the result of his fieldwork conducted in Mumbai and other regions with a synthesis of the most current theoretical research on knowledge, space, and materiality to show how learning should be viewed as central to the production and politics of cities. In doing so, he deploys the analytic of assemblage to explain the complex processes through which knowledge and learning enable and limit various forms of urbanism.

This groundbreaking work examines learning as a practice, explores learning as tactics, and reveals how learning is intrinsic to the shape of political imaginaries, strategies, and contestations. A critical discussion of the types of learning environments that may facilitate more socially just urbanisms is also included. Provocative, timely, and fraught with scholarly rigor, Learning the City offers invaluable insights into the role of learning in urban developmental studies.

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Series Editors′ Preface ix

Acknowledgements x

Introduction 1

1 Learning Assemblages 15

Introduction 15

Translation: Distribution, Practice and Comparison 17

Coordinating Learning 19

Dwelling and Perception 21

Assemblage Space 23

Conclusion 30

2 Assembling the Everyday: Incremental Urbanism and Tactical Learning 32

Introduction 32

Incremental Urbanism 33

Learning the Unknown City: Street Children in Mumbai 43

Learning, Rhythm, Space 47

Tactical Learning 54

Conclusion 59

3 Learning Social Movements: Tactics, Urbanism and Politics 62

Introduction 62

Knowing Social Movements 63

Global Slumming 66

The Housing Assemblage: Materializing Learning 69

Learning and Representation: Counting the Poor 74

Entrepreneurial Learning 85

Conclusion 90

4 Urban Learning Forums 92

Introduction 92

Uncertain Forums 93

Dialogic Urban Forums 98

Translocalism and Translation 105

Conclusion 113

5 Travelling Policies, Ideological Assemblages 115

Introduction 115

Translating Policy 117

Comparative Learning: Translation and Colonial Urbanism 122

Ideology and Postwar Urban Planning 128

Neoliberal Urban Learning Assemblages 134

Ideology and Explanation: Beyond Diffusionist Story–Making 145

Conclusion 151

6 A Critical Geography of Urban Learning 153

Introduction 153

The Actual and the Possible 155

Agency and Critical Learning 160

Assemblage and the Critical Learning Imaginary 164

Postcolonial Urban Learning? 167

Conclusion 172

Conclusion 174

References 185

Index 205

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Readers who have ever puzzled over the movement of particular discourses or knowledge systems from one urban context to another, or between otherwise disparate groups, will find in this volume an exhaustive and compelling effort to theorize the development, movement, and effects of learning Its revelatory power is arguably profound: for McFarlane, it promises nothing short of understanding the power to forge a different kind of city. In the 21st century city, the material and analytical stakes of learning could not be higher. (Antipode, 1 September 2013)

This book is a significant step in bringing learning to the core of urban study This volume s detailed fieldwork effectively supports its desire to see learning occupy a central place in the production of more socially just urbanisms.   (Area, 1 May 2013)

Learning the City is a critical academic contribution useful for scholars of the field ... It is sure to become indispensable for academics of the discipline.   (Geography Helvitica, 1 December  2012)

"ThroughLearning the City McFarlane has made a major contribution to our understandings of the urban. In its commitment to the diverse and lively practices through which the city is learned and known, in its engagement with the diverse forms of agency and political practices through which agency is assembled and re–assembled the book enlivens understandings of spatial politics. It is also a text that is animated by a powerful sense of hope that cities might come to bere–assembled in different ways that are more equitable and more open to different agentic forces and contributions." (Society and Space, 1 November 2012)

"In Learning the City, McFarlane successfully manages to open the black box of urban learning in widening the perspective to acknowledge diverse urban learning practices, which may even bear a transformative potential in certain contexts." (International Planning Studies, 23 October 2012)

"Learning the City is an important and theoretically sophisticated piece of work. It is like a good movie: you need to re–view it in your mind several times to position yourself ... McFarlane s innovative theory of urban learning is very helpful to an understanding of contemporary urbanism and of how it can be changed for the better. Its great merit is to make us see cities as complex learning assemblages and milieus." (Urban Geography, 34.1)

A wonderfully insightful book that rewards careful attention and deserves a wide readership ... A powerful framework for re–thinking issues of poverty, urban informality and development in the Global South. (Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 34 (2013))

A rich and perceptive account of how we dwell in and learn about cities and what it takes to live an urban life McFarlane s book forces us to review the conceptual tools we have in the planning field for getting to know what cities are like and how urban life is experienced. (Patsy Healey, Planning Theory & Practice, 14:2)

Urbanism, McFarlane believes, needs a theory of learning; throughout his book he builds a very sophisticated one [he] brings us closer to the material stuff of urban life and politics a kind of urbanism in motion, whereby what we come to term knowledge , infrastructure and resources are never simply there , but must be translated, distributed, coordinated, perceived and inhabited . (International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Volume 38.1, January 2014).

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