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Title: What is urban materialism? : deconstructing the 'image of the city' in Marxist geography, space syntax and SIRN
Author: Weissenborn, F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 8498 814X
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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The urban question concerns the relationship between urban form and urban social existence. According to Bill Hillier, there are two ways of approaching this question. A 'society-first' approach in which space is seen as a reification of a prior social logic. And a 'space-first' approach in which it is acknowledged that space involves its own emergent morphogenetic processes. This thesis attempts to overcome this binary. It will do so by elaborating a theory of urban materialism in which the urban artefact and the urban social fact are theorised as two irreducible processes of concurrent organisation and creation. Neither thus 'represents' the other, although both may be involved - as constitutive elements - in each other's genesis. The thesis is divided into three parts. A first part explores the work of Marxist geographers Lefebvre, Castells and Harvey and their understanding of the urban question. It discusses how, despite certain theoretical differences, these theories all perpetuate an understanding of urban space as a representation of something else (the mode of production; the historical conjuncture, etc.). This constitutes what Portugali calls the Marxist image of the city. A second part of the thesis explores a principle of formation from which a new image of the city may be developed; one that does not reduce the logic of urban space to a prior social logic. I discuss the materialist philosophy of Baruch Spinoza - in whom representational (or 'hylomorphic') models are critiqued and transcended - paying particular attention to the latter's definition of spontaneous modal autopoiesis and efficacy. A third part of the thesis employs these Spinozist notions in the discussion of the material urban artefact as this is envisioned by Portugali and Hillier. I discuss both theories and integrate them into a general theory of urban artefacticity by way of André Leroi-Gourhan's artefactual philosophy. In this way is outlined a theory of urban materialism predicated on artefactual autopoiesis and efficacy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available