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The Urban Apparatus

Mediapolitics and the City

2016
Author:

Reinhold Martin

The Urban Apparatus

What is a city, today?

Blending critical philosophy, political theory, and media theory, The Urban Apparatus explores how the aesthetics of cities and their political economies overlap. In a series of ten essays, Reinhold Martin argues that understanding the city as infrastructure reveals urbanization to be a way of imparting functional, aesthetic, and cognitive order to a contradictory, doubly bound neoliberal regime.

Reinhold Martin's work productively connects debates on architectural culture to fundamental questions related to the political economy of city-building, urbanism, and urbanization. His ideas are at once philosophically grounded, historically nuanced, spatially attuned, and political.

Neil Brenner, Harvard University

Urbanization is a system of power and knowledge, and today’s city functions through the expansive material infrastructures of the urban order. In The Urban Apparatus, Reinhold Martin analyzes urbanization and the contemporary city in aesthetic, socioeconomic, and mediapolitical terms. He argues that understanding the city as infrastructure reveals urbanization to be a way of imparting functional, aesthetic, and cognitive order to a contradictory, doubly bound neoliberal regime.

Blending critical philosophy, political theory, and media theory, The Urban Apparatus explores how the aesthetics of cities and their political economies overlap. In a series of ten essays, with a detailed theoretical introduction, Martin explores questions related to urban life, drawn from a wide range of global topics—from the fiscal crisis in Detroit to speculative development in Mumbai to the landscape of Mars, from discussions of race and the environment to housing and economic inequality. Each essay proposes a particular “mediator” (or a material complex) that is shaped by imaginative practices, each answering the question “What is a city, today?”

The Urban Apparatus serves as an “urban” bookend to the architectural questions explored by Martin in his earlier book Utopia’s Ghost, and ultimately offers readers a way to think politically about urbanization.

The Urban Apparatus

Reinhold Martin is professor of architecture at Columbia University. He cofounded the journal Grey Room and is author of Utopia’s Ghost: Architecture and Postmodernism, Again (Minnesota, 2010).

The Urban Apparatus

Reinhold Martin's work productively connects debates on architectural culture to fundamental questions related to the political economy of city-building, urbanism, and urbanization. His ideas are at once philosophically grounded, historically nuanced, spatially attuned, and political.

Neil Brenner, Harvard University

The Urban Apparatus offers a brilliant meditation on the new realities and experiences of the city in a fluid and rapidly changing global situation. Reinhold Martin explores an extraordinarily diverse set of objects in ways that are illuminating, original, and often deeply moving—all of which take on special urgency in our current national and geo-political climates.

Phillip E. Wegner, University of Florida

The Urban Apparatus

Contents
Preface
Introduction: The Urban Apparatus
1. City, Country, World
2. Financial Imaginaries
3. The Thing About Cities
4. Public and Common(s)
5. Horizons of Thought
6. Polis = Oikos
7. Notes of the Housing Question
8. Broken Windows
9. Beijing in Detroit
10. Infrastructure and Mediapolitics
Notes
Index