Digital Cities: The Interdisciplinary Future of the Urban by Benjamin Fraser

By Benjamin Fraser

This booklet highlights an interdisciplinary terrain the place the arts and social sciences mix with electronic tools. It argues that whereas disciplinary frictions nonetheless the possibility of electronic initiatives, the character of the city phenomenon pushes us towards an interdisciplinary and electronic destiny the place the primacy of towns is guaranteed.

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Extra info for Digital Cities: The Interdisciplinary Future of the Urban Geo-Humanities

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0005 Disciplinary/Digital Debates and the Urban Phenomenon   Interestingly, Leavis’s distrust of the instrumentalizing logic of mechanism can be read along with the work of Lewis Mumford (see Introduction, Fraser, Toward an Urban Cultural Studies). He sought not to do away with science but to account for the excesses of a purely scientific worldview through humanistic complements: “A very strong, persistent and resourceful creative effort, then is desperately needed – a collaborative creativity to complement that which has produced the sciences” (Leavis 157); “I am not suggesting that we ought to halt the progress of science and technology, I am insisting that the more potently they accelerate their advance the more urgent does it become to inaugurate another, a different, sustained effort of collaborative human creativity which is concerned with perpetuating, strengthening and asserting, in response to change, a full human creativity” (Leavis 156).

Nor should we overlook the contributions of the biologist, doctor or psychiatrist, or those of the novelist or poet [ ... ] Without the progressive and regressive movements (in time and space) of analysis, without the multiple divisions and fragmentations, it would be impossible to conceive of a science of the urban phenomenon. 42 Put another way, no “collection of objects – economy, sociology, history, demography, psychology, or earth sciences, such as geology” can reconstitute the complexity of the urban phenomenon.

The concept of the city no longer corresponds to a social object,”43 instead it is a process. As we saw in Chapter 1 of this book, many have recognized that the city is not a thing or a simple object, and in this sense Lefebvre is not unique. 44 In another sense, however – understood at the scale that is proper to its reproduction – the urban phenomenon illustrates a dynamic that is closely related to if not indicative of the general functioning of capitalist societies. What this means is that underneath these seeming matters of mere disciplinary perspective there are matters of knowledge, alienation and labor – work in both the material and intellectual senses.

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