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Call for Papers: New Encounters in French and Italian Thought

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Hongrie : 10.000 personnes contre la première taxe Internet du monde

Originally posted on LE JOURNAL DU SIÈCLE:

Environ 10 000 personnes ont manifesté à Budapest dimanche 26 octobre pour protester contre le projet du gouvernement de Viktor Orbán d’imposer la première “taxe Internet” du monde.

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Geert Lovink on Bifo, Dark Media, and Resistance

Keith Harris:

Good to see Andrew Culp’s “Dark Deleuze” getting much deserved attention. I regularly refer undergrads who are interested in continental philosophy and humanities to his blog, to take a look at his dissertation…

Originally posted on Deterritorial Investigations Unit:


Geert Lovink recently gave a speech on Franco “Bifo” Berardi’s phd thesis, which is being published by Semiotex(e) sometime next year. In the meantime, Lovink muses on Bifo’s relationship to Deleuze (particularly the “Dark Deleuze” formulated over at AnarchistWithoutContent), the collapse of the counterculture in the face of neoliberalism, the dawning of neuro-capitalism, and the persistence of resistance under a regime of depression and apparent futility. Brought here via Nettime!

Being a decade younger, I heard for the first time from him and
his activities around 1980, when stories about Radio Alice were
spreading throughout Europe. True, the Amsterdam free radio scene,
operating out of the squatters movement of the time, had a multitude
of (local) roots but Radio Alice was certainly one of them. The
Bologna uprising of 1977, in which Bifo played a crucial role,
predated our most tumultuous year, 1980, and was thus a an…

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Ananya Roy en los podcasts del Urban Theory Lab

Originally posted on multipliciudades:

Ya he comentado en otra entrada de este blog el papel clave que la profesora Ananya Roy ha tenido para que dejáramos de leer los urbanismos informales del Sur Global como una rareza o un exotismo y empezáramos a interpretarlos no sólo como un fenómeno protagonista de las nuevas formas de urbanización planetaria sino, también, como una tremenda oportunidad para la transformación de los esquemas tradicionales de la teoría urbana y los estudios urbanos críticos.

Los interesados en su trabajo pueden ahora escuchar la entrevista que Neil Brenner le hizo hace unas semanas con motivo de su visita al Urban Theory Lab de Harvard. Cuarenta minutos de interesantísima reflexión en abierto.

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CFP: Urban Theory’s Dirty Sweaty Little Others

Call for Participants: 5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies

University of Edinburgh, June 10-12, 2015

Session Organizers: Heather McLean (University of Glasgow) and Leslie Kern (Mount Allison University)

Title: Urban Theory’s Dirty Sweaty Little Others

Planetary urbanism, urban neoliberalism, creative cities, the precariat, gentrification, urban exploration, sustainability, community arts: contemporary urban theory has no shortage of concepts and topics with high levels of academic and popular currency. Falling under the broad umbrella of “critical [urban] geographies” (Blomley, 2006), these topics (perhaps ironically) form the basis of dominant – and intellectually trendy – conceptual models for understanding the city. Some urban scholars have added nuance to this work by calling for research that decentres a global north-south divide, engages more with post-colonial theories, addresses embodiment and emotion, and fosters a feminist ethic of care, reciprocity, and engagement with research ‘subjects’ (McCann and Ward, 2012; Nagar, 2013; Peake and Reiker, 2013; Robinson, 2011; Wright, 2014). But, as popular urban research topics are continually refined, repeated, cited, and re-circulated through particular scholar networks they may develop an increasingly abstract distance from the people, places, and contexts that are purportedly of concern. Moreover, too often the process and emotional/embodied labour of theory-making remains opaque and authorial subjectivity remains obscured within this canon. Our intention for this session is to contribute to discussions about what gets lost – and what happens outside of – these networks of dominant, western, abstract theorizing about cities.

As feminist urban geographers, teachers, artists, and activists, we argue that it is a feminist imperative to keep flagging the invisibilized labour of theory-making, the devaluation/appropriation of the (gendered and racialized) labour of the ‘subjects’ of urban research, the affective economy of cities, and the queer and embodied processes of thinking, playing, failing, blundering, wandering, and wondering that generate something Other than the current dominant ‘critical’ narratives of the city.

Drawing inspiration from Jack Halberstam’s (2011) notion of “queer failure,” Sarah Ahmed’s (2014) idea of “sweaty concepts,” and the longstanding feminist commitment to engage deeply with the everyday, the irrelevant, the banal, and the excessive, we ask the following questions in the spirit of playful and provocative critique:

  • · How does urban theory/research reproduce dominant narratives about the city? What structures (financial, institutional, social, etc.) facilitate this? Where does this production take place? Alone, in front of computer screens, in workshops attended by select individuals?
  • · What counts as theory? What counts as a concept? What counts as theory-making? Ahmed notes that some of us ‘litter’ our conceptualizing with anecdotes or personal experiences or embodied, emotional narratives (e.g. acknowledging the ‘sweat’ that occurs when we encounter a ‘place’ where we don’t fit); this ‘litter’ can be a generative starting point for theorizing. But it is often cut out of or devalued in academic writing. What makes us sweat?
  • · How can we put this ‘litter’ back in, or reclaim frivolous ideas and practices meant to “provoke, annoy, irritate and amuse” (Halberstam 2011)?
  • · Do pressures to engage with particular concepts or methodologies hold us back from taking risks, getting lost, blundering around with ideas, and maybe failing as we take twisty pathways that can open up doors and create further unexpected encounters?
  • · What can we learn from using what Halberstam refers to as “silly” archives, low theory (e.g. pop culture), the strange, the inconsequential, the micro, the irrelevant, the affective, and the everyday to examine urban politics?
  • ·What ‘sweaty concepts’ are there to work with in urban geography? (E.g. are there any concepts that “show the bodily work or effort of their making”?)
  • ·What would we like to have available to work with – conceptually, emotionally, politically – that is missing or underrepresented in the lexicon of urban theory?

Our hope is to put together an interactive session that will allow participants and audience members to explore these and other questions across their research interests in a space of collective, playful, and interdisciplinary thought making. We are therefore asking for ‘expressions of interest:’ Would you like to participate in such a session? What would you like to talk about? What other questions would you like to ask or explore? How would you like to participate?

Interested people can forward brief answers to these questions to: or by Friday, October 24, 2014.

Works cited

Ahmed, S (2014) “Sweaty Concepts,” Feminist Killjoys, available at

Blomley, N (2006) “Uncritical critical geography?” Progress in Human Geography 30(1) 87-94.

Halberstam, J (2011) The Queer Art of Failure, Duke University Press Books.

McCann, E and Ward, K (2012) “Assembling urbanism: following policies and ‘studying through’ the sites and situations of policy making” Environment and Planning A 44(1) 42-51.

Nagar, R (2013) “Desiring Alliance and Complex Translations in Activist Research: An Interview with Richa Nagar,” Class War University, available at

Robinson, J (2011) “Cities in a world of cities: the comparative gesture” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35(1) 1-23.

Peake, L and Reiker, M (Eds) (2013) Feminist Interventions Into the Urban, Routledge.

Wright, M (2014) “Gentrification, assassination and forgetting in Mexico: a feminist Marxist tale” Gender, Place and Culture 21(1) 1-16.

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Michel Serres on Architecture, Urbanism, Space

This is my translation of a short article on some comments Serres made in September at an event on architecture and urbanism in Bordeaux (the translation is rough in places, but I am just learning; comments, corrections, are of course welcome). The original French article is here:

“Architects, you’re fooling yourselves naked”

Michel Serres really does not like what architecture has become in recent years. And he said it publicly with the eloquence that we know in a moment of exchange organized by Adim Southwest, a Vinci Construction France company, at the last meeting of the Bordeaux biennale of architecture, urbanism, and design. The philosopher and historian of science called on the professionals to revolt, but with a smile.

To attend a talk by Michel Serres is often the occasion to take a deep breath of fresh air in the face. The smiling philosopher takes a sly pleasure in heckling his listeners. On Friday September 12th, in front of an audience of real estate professionals and urbanists, the philosopher did it again at panel dedicated to architecture and urbanism. Highlights:

On Dwelling

“When one speaks of dwelling, one evokes three profoundly ancient memories of man. The first is that we are animals. Our habitats are the geometric skeletons of a tree. We inhabit trees. The architect builds trees! He studies energy independence, to capture sunlight, to surround his work in leaves. It is the oldest idea in the world. So much for the first memory. The second: the paleoanthropologists know that the hunter-gatherers voluntarily chose to settle the treed savanna, near a water source. Today, the dream of the richest repeats this ancient dream. Our projects are not strong insofar as they recover something deeply rooted in our memory. Regarding the third memory: the place, it is the womb. If I were rich, I would call an architect and I would say to him or her: “Make me a woman!” We seek to find, in our dwelling, in our room, in our bed, the sensations that we experienced for nine months.”

On the death of the countryside

“Note that in 1820, only 8% of mankind inhabited cities! One day, I was asked by a journalist about what event I considered to be the most important of the 20th century. In 1900 in France, 65 to 70% of people supported themselves through agriculture or related occupations. In 2000, they were 1%. For me, the most striking event of the 20th century is the desertion of rural space. The city killed the countryside.”

On suburbs

“My suburb is the 9.3. Everyone says that it is dull, poor. But come on! It is infinitely richer than the towns of Creuse or Ariège. One lives near all parts of the social ladder. Our relationship to the neighborhood is, I believe, more successful compared to these agricultural towns where hospitals and schools have disappeared.”

On space

“My address changed. It was a space with statistics and letters, Cartesian, metric. A street, a number. I cannot get any more publications. However, on my email on my phone, is where I receive my most important messages. I have changed addresses. And our relationship to space has also changed. If I call an interlocutor for a friendly meeting, the space becomes otherwise, without distance, since I can telephone from anywhere. We live now in a space without topological distances. The donkey, the horse reduced distances. Information and communication technologies have deleted them.”

On Cities

“I was struck, on my arrival in the United States, by the ugliness of American cities, which had the significance of writing. This writing invaded France in the 1970s. When we arrive in a city, we enter into screaming ugliness. These entrances become the shame of France, and they take only written form. Architecture is dead, writing has killed the building. You do not build more than screens, pages. And yet, I am a man of letters, I have written 60 books. But this one kills your job, it is shit! Take off your clothes. Architects, you’re fooling yourselves naked. Naked, the architects. The first who restores building will have saved architecture.”

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