Book #21

calhoun

CALHOUN Craig, SENNETT Richard, SHAPIRA Harel, Public Culture. Infrastructures of the Urban, Duke University Press, 2013.

Treating cities as laboratories of the modern world, “Infrastructures of the Urban” examines how they are made and how they should be remade. The contributors—scholars and practitioners from architects and sociologists to physicists—bring to bear empirical analysis, ethnography, eyewitness reflections, cultural critique, and manifestos to explore how improving our material and cultural infrastructure can produce a better society.

The authors’ interest in urban experience is ethical as well as scholarly. Topics include the World Trade Center memorial, the planning of the London Olympics, the informal redesign of shanty housing by slum residents in Mumbai and Mozambique, and the more formalized construction of highways and “tech-cities” like Sondgu, South Korea. The contributors show how cities are made and remade daily, as well as how the diverse, unexpected agents involved in the process break down the distinction between experts and laypeople. The essays do not merely examine cities at a theoretical or dispassionate distance but recommend normative values for how cities should evolve to address new social challenges.