We are searching for one paper to complete our panel for the American Anthropological Association meeting. We welcome papers looking at these topics in any city/region.
Please send abstracts (250 words) to Federico Pérez (email@example.com) by April 1.
Urbanism and Failure: governance, politics, and materiality
This panel explores ‘failure’ as a constitutive dimension of the contemporary urban experience. Interruption, obsolescence, and incompetence will be viewed as social processes inherent to the production, transformation, and inhabitation of urban space. Rather than presenting ‘failure’ as an anomaly or deviation, the panel will reconceptualize diverse forms of breakdown as fundamental modalities of ‘the urban.’ From governmental ineffectiveness to the obduracy and inadequacy of the built environment to the fragile operation of urban flows, the discussion will consider the ways in which a range of actors –from planners to urban dwellers– work through and get a handle on everyday ‘malfunctions.’
The predominance of Euro-American experiences in urban theory has often led researchers to dismiss alternative urban processes and practices as incomplete, informal, or simply unsuccessful. When such urban ‘failures’ have been studied, they have been usually understood against the backdrop of the reified ‘normality’ of Euro-American urbanism. As a result, failures have been sidestepped through the analysis of their unintended consequences or adopted as diagnostics of other social and economic phenomena. Following recent calls for “new geographies” of urban theory, the panel brings together ethnographic research from Africa, Latin America, and South East Asia in an effort to investigate the practice of failure directly as a defining characteristic of urbanism beyond the West. By looking at how failure is actually performed and integrated into urban life, both by its planners and dwellers, this set of papers contributes to current academic debates aimed at “dislocating” and “relocating” the production of urban theory.
Claudia Gastrow, University of Chicago
Claudio Sopranzetti, Harvard University
Federico Pérez, Harvard University
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