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Urban Encounters

2003
Author:

Helen Liggett

Urban Encounters

In words and photographs, reimagining the city as lived space

In contrast to Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, and other European thinkers, American intellectuals tend to envision the modern city as a dystopia. In Urban Encounters, Helen Liggett challenges this fatalism by approaching the city as a vibrant, lived space. Combining a sophisticated critique of the urban with striking images, Liggett reclaims the human experience of the city.

Combining a sophisticated critique of the urban with striking street-level images, Liggett reclaims the human experience of the city. Liggett’s photographs capture the small details—the gestures, glances, and reflections—that together compose the urban experience. Urban Encounters reimagines the city as a site of profound engagement with life.

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

In contrast to Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, and other European thinkers engaged with the concept of the urban, American intellectuals tend to envision the modern city as a dystopia, their perception of urban life influenced by negative stereotypes and fictional depictions in popular culture. In Urban Encounters, Helen Liggett challenges this fatalism by approaching the city as a vibrant, lived space. Combining a sophisticated critique of the urban with striking, street-level images, Liggett reclaims the human experience of the city.

Liggett’s “encounters” with the urban are sequences of images and text that combine the joy of observing with the pleasure of making connections. For Liggett, this entails recognizing both beauty and danger. Alternately complementing and complicating her text, Liggett’s photographs capture the small details—the gestures, glances, and reflections—that together compose the urban experience. As a whole, Urban Encounters reimagines the city as a site of profound engagement with life.


Urban Encounters

Helen Liggett is professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University. She is coeditor, with David C. Perry, of Spatial Practices: Critical Explorations in Social/Spatial Theory (1995), and her photographs have been exhibited at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art.

Urban Encounters

Combining a sophisticated critique of the urban with striking street-level images, Liggett reclaims the human experience of the city. Liggett’s photographs capture the small details—the gestures, glances, and reflections—that together compose the urban experience. Urban Encounters reimagines the city as a site of profound engagement with life.

Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society

Urban Encounters is a stimulating and highly recommended work, offering an excellent refreshing ample ground to speculate more on the spatial inquiry and cultural production.

Regional Studies

Liggett and those she discusses propose a new way of thinking about space—one that is not caught up in the tiresome procedure of mapping grids of social power, but looks to the way that space is an activity, or a whole range of activities, and not simply a thing.

Canadian Literature

Urban Encounters

Contents

Preface

Introduction

Urban
Space
City
Streets

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index