Aspiration for whom?: Aesthetic language in Detroit and Delhi

Authors: Michael Borsellino*, University of Michigan, Taru Taru, University of Michigan
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Cultural Geography
Keywords: aesthetics, futurity, planning, technopolitics, language
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Day: 4/6/2020
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Plaza Ballroom F, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Planning practitioners are constantly reimagining our urban futures. Their images depict advancing technological processes, capital investment, and visions of affluence. This process of technocratic visioning creates narrative roles that shape belief and desire. This paper examines image production and its impacts in two bifurcated cities that have been actively and aggressively reinventing themselves over the past decade. Detroit and Delhi publish their aspirational futures as worlding cities, aiming to attract capital in an effort to erase their histories of degradation. Drawing on Austin's theory of speech acts, we find the priority placed on and represented by aspirational aesthetics subordinates issues of justice and citizenship amongst existing residents. We call on planning practitioners to be more conscientious of the normative rhetoric they use to build the “future”.

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