Towards a political ecology of ambiances/atmospheres

Authors: Damien Masson*, Université de Cergy-Pontoise. Laboratoire MRTE, Rachel THOMAS BOUCHON*, CRESSON UMR CNRS/MCC/ECN 1563
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Social Theory, Qualitative Research
Keywords: atmospheres, political ecology, affect, critical approach
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Regency Ballroom, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Research on architectural and urban atmospheres is not devoid of a form of criticism. It points out the tendency of designers and developers that perpetuate ways of thinking and doing that are eye-based, therefore neglecting the scope and richness of other senses and other sensory modalities of space. Social research that questions the reconfigurations of contemporary urbanity (on urban violence, surveillance, sanitization and pacification of public spaces, etc.) call for another kind of criticism, that is explicitly inscribed in a perspective that articulates space and society. The purpose of this paper is therefore to question the possibility of formulating a critique of the urban, starting precisely from the effects urban transformations, understood as transformating urban atmospheres, on the human sensorium and on the sensory forms of urban life. This proposal is a way to address a critical theory applied to urban transformations at a macrosociological level and solely from the point of view of spatial (in)justice, forms of social exclusion, domination, reproduction, and inequalities. Complementary to these modes of understanding, a sensory critique of the urban aims at shifting to an ethnographic perspective, sensitive to the mundane experience of the inhabitants and the incarnated experiences of urban environments. It is also a way of introducing the political (rather than politics) - in the sense of paying attention to the "forms of life" in the field of architectural and urban atmospheres. Beyond this position, the goal is identify some postures, from which such a criticism is likely to be built.

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