Neil Brenner: “There is obviously a dialectic between concrete research and abstract theorization.”

This one line summarily expresses the ontological problem that I have with Critical Urban Theory. I am completely sympathetic to Brenner’s project of critically analyzing the presupposed “categories, interpretations, and cartographies” that animate urban research, but fail to understand how the “obviousness” of dialectical thinking does not itself need to be criticized? A blasphemous or monstrous suggestion in the world of critical urban studies? Maybe! One that should therefore be developed carefully? I think so. As I get closer to emerging from the haze of my own concrete research and attempt to stitch together a version of critical urban theory that is axiomatic rather than dialectical, I can feel my responses to this problematique emerging. In the meantime, however, I am trying to assemble the most central points of this work for the Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Refrains of Freedom conference in Athens, the week after next.

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