More-than-human planning: the agency of buildings and bodies in the post-political city



Publication Details

Cook, N. (2018). More-than-human planning: the agency of buildings and bodies in the post-political city. Geographical Research, 56 (4), 368-381.


Through a comparative study of political activism in Millers Point, Dawes Point, and The Rocks in Sydney from 1971 to 1974 and from 2014 to 2017, this paper examines the more-than-human force of bodies and buildings in redemocratising cities. The paper brings theoretical insights from urban assemblage and Deleuzian scholarship into dialogue with post-political theory. In doing so, it shifts the focus in urban political geography from a concern with diverse social groups to the political potential in more-than-human assemblages. Through a re-reading of Sydney's Green Bans in Millers Point, Dawes Point, and The Rocks, the paper first shows how the withdrawal of labour and stilled building sites comprise informal pathways of planning rejection that centralise social and ecological concerns in decision-making in urban development. That first case is then contrasted with the contemporary case of privatisation and displacement at the same sites, showing how aged bodies can energise latent deliberative spaces across diverse (if repressed) institutions in liberal democracies. Given the capacities of materials and bodies to produce planning outcomes, the paper conceptualises planning as a more-than-human process enhanced by immersion in the experimental materialism of political movements-and this materialism is inherently geographical. The paper concludes with my reflecting on whether the proximity of workers and residents to the materials of the built environment in social movement activism of the 1970s intensified the reach of the event compared with the uncertain struggle over Millers Point today.

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