Resilience in-formation: The ontopolitics of design-driven urban resilience in Miami-Dade County

Authors: Kevin Grove*, Florida International University, Allain Barnett, Florida International University
Topics: Political Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Urban Geography
Keywords: resilience, design, ontopolitics, Simondon
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Design-driven approaches to urban resilience have become increasingly influential during the past decade. Programs such as Rebuild by Design and the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative feature designerly techniques geared towards transforming decision-making processes and synthesizing diverse perspectives and interests into more inclusive and holistic forms of urban governance. While these approaches have attracted interest from practitioners and critical scholars alike, less attention has been paid to the techniques and mechanisms through which design produces synthesis, and the ontopolitical effects that result. Through a case study of design-driven resilience planning in Miami Dade County, we explore how designerly practices at once open and foreclose new possibilities for knowing and managing social and ecological difference. Drawing on Gilbert Simondon’s anti-substantialist critique of cybernetics, we first show how techniques of design modulate difference in ways that open urban governance institutions to the contemporaneous presence of multiple forms of resilience and vulnerability throughout South Florida. However, at the same time, we argue that this modulation occurs through techniques of affective engineering that topologically reconfigure those institutions in ways that preserve rather than transform the urban political ecological status quo. Bringing Simondon’s in-formational ontology into conversation with the growing literature on the ontopolitics of design and resilience thus shows how design-driven resilience agitates for the practice of multiple “Miamis” as it depotentializes this multiplicity.

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