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Two Approaches to World Management

Nikos Katsikis, “Two approaches to ‘world management’: C. A. Doxiadis and R. B. Fuller,” in Neil Brenner (ed.), Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization. Berlin: Jovis, 2013, 480-504.

Against the background of contemporary debates on planetary urbanization, this chapter critically revisits two important postwar approaches to conceptualizing, envisioning and managing the world as a whole—those of Constantinos Doxiadis and R. Buckminster Fuller. Notably, both Fuller and Doxiadis recognized the fundamentally global dimensions of urbanization and the associated challenges of population growth, land management, resource allocation, unequal development and environmental degradation. Albeit in distinctive ways, each of these authors proposed to confront this issue comprehensively, through radical design agendas, based upon scientific rationality, systematic knowledge and the aspiration for total administrative control. After critically surveying Doxiadis’ and Fuller’s approaches to world urbanization and their associated strategies for managing the latter, the chapter reflects upon the technoscientific epistemological foundations of both approaches, which neglected to consider the fundamentally political character of spatial relations under modern capitalism. Such technoscientific approaches are experiencing a renaissance today, albeit in new and often less visionary guises. Critical perspectives on the regulation of worldwide capitalist urbanization thus remain as urgently relevant as ever.

Visualizing an Urbanized Planet

Urban Theory Lab-GSD (Neil Brenner, Nikos Katsikis, Danika Cooper, Ghazal Jafari), “Visualizing an urbanized planet—materials,” in Neil Brenner (ed.), Implosions/Explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization. Berlin: Jovis, 2013, 460-475.

Any attempt to understand and influence urbanization hinges upon representations of the core spatial units that underpin this process and the spatial parameters in which its effects are thought to be circumscribed. This chapter from the volume Implosions/Explosions reflects upon the ways in which such assumptions have been inscribed and naturalized in major visualizations of the world as a space of urbanization since the early-twentieth century. Specifically, we consider the ways in which a variety of indicators—population; economic activity; transportation networks; communications infrastructures; and patterns of worldwide land occupation and environmental transformation—have been used in fourteen exemplary maps of cities and the space of the world from the last century. These materials also illustrate how, even as new, potentially more sophisticated geospatial data sources become available, many of the same basic analytical and representational taxonomies have remained operative in relation to the classic indicators that have long been used to demarcate urbanization processes. More generally, the chapter argues for an approach to cartographic visualization that is critically attuned to the visual techniques, metageographical assumptions and spatial ideologies that pervade both historical and contemporary representations of the global urban condition.

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