Duke University Press
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Amin, A. (2014). Animated Space. Public Culture, 27 (76), 239-258. https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2841844
This paper re-evaluates the canon that imagines urban public space as a site of civic and political formation. In this tradition, strangers become subjects and citizens or their opposites depending on the nature of their exposure to each other and the qualities of the space in which they find themselves. Analytically, it is the gathered humans who do most of the social and political work, in the form of harrying crowds, convivial residents, bartering subjects, revolting citizens, disciplining agents. In contrast, the paper explores the implications of thinking the urban landscape as sentient in its own right, as a hum of interacting and humans and nonhumans that exceeds and performs its occupants in far from easily decipherable or straightforward ways. Alluding to the author’s own observations in public space, and writing on hybrid performances - software in the ‘smart city’, witchcraft in the streets of Kinshasa, the sermon-filled outdoors in Cairo, and the sensoria of Canton’s opium-trading quarters in the 19th century - the paper argues that the eventfulness of urban public space lies in the more than human combinations, which make the politics of place fleeting, hidden, and never reducible to human sociality alone.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-2841844
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/246331