Mittwoch, 21. Mai 2014, 18:00 - 19:30 iCal

Reconstructing the urban:

Experiments in post-neoliberal biopolitics

Department of Science and Technology Studies, seminar room STS (C0602)
Universitätsstraße 7 / II / 6th floor, 1010 Wien


The task of designing and rebuilding Chilean cities after the tsunami disaster of 2010 radically challenged prevailing urban governmental rationalities shaped by neoliberal understandings of the social as a field of autonomous, entrepreneurial and self-responsible individuals. The urban environment understood as a biophysical, technical and spatial infrastructure of life emerged as the key object of governmental intervention, replacing at least temporarily the otherwise still prevalent reduction of urban politics to the regulation of land, construction and housing markets. In this talk, I will explore the timid emergence of post-neoliberal propositions regarding the object of urban politics. I will dwell on two experimental reconfigurations. First, the recognition of tsunamis as inhuman forces capable of radically disrupting urban arrangements did not just pose the question of how many we are in coastal cities, but also a new type of governmental problem: how to deal with inhuman forces that do not respond to economic incentives or political rationales. Second, it also became evident that urban governmental instruments could not any longer be just oriented to set limits or condition urbanization processes, but to develop visions and proposals of the city to be built. Moreover, key constraints for such instruments were not so much identified in the autonomous dynamics of fields external to the state, such as demographics or the economy, but rather in the internal structures of governmental action, and especially the lack of multi-sectorial and private-public coordination. Along these lines, I will engage with the notion of post-neoliberal biopolitics not as politico-ideological project of reclaiming the state, but rather as an empirically open inquiry into alternative ontologies for a politics of (urban) life.

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Ignacio Farías


Karin Neumann
Institut für Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung