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Learning the City


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Table of Contents

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

About the Author

Colin McFarlane is Lecturer in Human Geography at Durham University, UK. His research focuses on urban geography, especially theorising the intersections between urban inequality, materiality, and knowledge.


Readers who have ever puzzled over the movement ofparticular discourses or knowledge systems from one urban contextto another, or between otherwise disparate groups, will find inthis volume an exhaustive and compelling effort to theorize thedevelopment, movement, and effects of learning Itsrevelatory power is arguably profound: for McFarlane, it promisesnothing short of understanding the power to forge a different kindof city. In the 21st century city, the material and analyticalstakes of learning could not be higher. (Antipode, 1September 2013) This book is a significant step in bringing learning tothe core of urban study This volume s detailedfieldwork effectively supports its desire to see learning occupy acentral place in the production of more socially justurbanisms. (Area, 1 May 2013) Learning the City is a critical academiccontribution useful for scholars of the field ... It is sureto become indispensable for academics of thediscipline. (Geography Helvitica, 1 December 2012)"Through Learning the City McFarlane has made a majorcontribution to our understandings of the urban. In its commitmentto the diverse and lively practices through which the city islearned and known, in its engagement with the diverse forms ofagency and political practices through which agency is assembledand re-assembled the book enlivens understandings of spatialpolitics. It is also a text that is animated by a powerful sense ofhope that cities might come to bere-assembled in different waysthat are more equitable and more open to different agentic forcesand contributions." ( Society and Space, 1 November 2012) "In Learning the City, McFarlane successfully manages toopen the black box of urban learning in widening the perspective toacknowledge diverse urban learning practices, which may even bear atransformative potential in certain contexts." (InternationalPlanning Studies, 23 October 2012) "Learning the City is an important and theoreticallysophisticated piece of work. It is like a good movie: you need tore-view it in your mind several times to position yourself ...McFarlane s innovative theory of urban learning is veryhelpful to an understanding of contemporary urbanism and of how itcan be changed for the better. Its great merit is to make us seecities as complex learning assemblages and milieus." (UrbanGeography, 34.1) A wonderfully insightful book that rewards carefulattention and deserves a wide readership ... A powerful frameworkfor re-thinking issues of poverty, urban informality anddevelopment in the Global South. (Singapore Journal ofTropical Geography 34 (2013)) A rich and perceptive account of how we dwell in andlearn about cities and what it takes to live an urban life McFarlane s book forces us to review the conceptual tools wehave in the planning field for getting to know whatcities are like and how urban life is experienced. (PatsyHealey, 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 andpolitics a kind of urbanism in motion, whereby what we cometo term knowledge , infrastructure and resources are never simply there , butmust be translated, distributed, coordinated, perceived andinhabited . (International Journal of Urban and RegionalResearch, Volume 38.1, January 2014).

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