On Tuesday March 9th 2021 at 18:30 CET (5:30 PM UTC), Sacha Kagan will give an online talk at the “Cambridge City Seminar”, via Zoom. To listen in, you need to register in advance on Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cambridge-city-seminar-cities-of-emergent-wisdom-registration-143703167041?aff=erelexpmlt
Cities of Emergent Wisdom: Urban Spaces of Possibility for Sustainable Urban Development
Dominant conceptions of sustainable urban development are rooted in a universalist definition of sustainability, whose thin goals are pursued through cybernetic apparatuses of control (lately in the guise of so-called smart cities). However, alternatives to this nefarious social imaginary of planned sustainability do also flourish around the world, which will be the focus of this talk. A procedural definition of sustainability, whereby desirable futures emerge as they are imagined and negotiated through collaboration, restores the generative spaces of culture, social creativity and politics of cooperation.
In his talk, Kagan will share empirical research into the qualities of urban spaces of possibility for sustainable urban development: local and translocal spaces of challenging experience, imagination, experimentation and ‘Gestaltung’ (making/designing/crafting).
In these spaces, the processes of imagination, creativity and experimentation are related to politics of cooperation that navigate between dialectic and dialogic forms (as discussed in Richard Sennett’s book Together).
The talk will also consider how some of these urban spaces of possibility are supported by specific forms of digital collaborative spaces and what kinds of virtual networks are involved. This will further lead to the legal-economic question of property regimes in relation to emergent spaces of possibility.
The talk will evoke the connection between the local level (or rather “nearby scale”, to take up the expression by Biao Xiang in his talk at this season’s Cambridge City Seminar) of urban spaces of possibility, and the wider whole-city scale of institutional innovation, through transversal and trans-sectoral agencies.
Time allowing, the talk may also include Kagan’s newest reflection on a difference between “spaces of possibility” and more elusive, suppressed and queering “spaces of potentiality”.
Urban spaces of possibility (and spaces of potentiality) may then contribute to cities of emergent wisdom, a counter-model to the “brave new world” of the smart city. More generally, this approach points to creative cultures of sustainability, informed by aesthetics of qualitative complexity (i.e. a deepening of ecologization of thinking beyond merely cybernetic complexity).