Advanced

The void : Urban wasteland as political space

VON SCHÉELE, CECILIA LU (2016)
Abstract
The rugged field and group of trees between housing estates or next to the railroad tracks, the left-over space of deserted industrial areas, the vacant demolition site of a central city block – they could all be termed ‘urban voids’. However, they are often anything but voids, in a literal sense, as they are not empty, or deserted. Yet they are ‘urban voids’, lacking an evident function, or a definition according to a plan. It is a category of urban space constructed as a nothingness, even though the very same space is often used for a variety of purposes. The aim of this thesis is to show how the urban void becomes as the constitutive outside of the City. It investigates the difference made between well-defined urban spaces (known... (More)
The rugged field and group of trees between housing estates or next to the railroad tracks, the left-over space of deserted industrial areas, the vacant demolition site of a central city block – they could all be termed ‘urban voids’. However, they are often anything but voids, in a literal sense, as they are not empty, or deserted. Yet they are ‘urban voids’, lacking an evident function, or a definition according to a plan. It is a category of urban space constructed as a nothingness, even though the very same space is often used for a variety of purposes. The aim of this thesis is to show how the urban void becomes as the constitutive outside of the City. It investigates the difference made between well-defined urban spaces (known by names such as ‘street’, ‘park’, ‘parking lot’, ‘housing block’) and the other kind of space.

The production of the void – either it is made a no-space, devoid of any meaning, or a mesmerising rabbit- hole leading to another world – is here understood as fundamentally political. With a relational conception of space and an anti-essentialist conception of politics and the political, the author conducts a deconstruction- inspired analysis of the becoming of the urban void as another kind of space. The Derridean notion of an undecidable provides a figure of thought that hinges the analysis together with a particular way of under- standing how dominant discourses on the City and conceptualisations of the urban void interact to deter- mine each other. It does not present a “truer” version of the urban void, but aims to shake up the dominant modes of conceptualising the phenomenon.

The analysis engages a variety of texts – whether in the shape of what one might call ‘theory’, or ‘empiri- cal material’, or a TV-series, or a novel – and the thoughts provoked by working with those texts, have been edited into a montage. Fieldwork – in Athens (Greece), Berlin (Germany), Brasília (Brazil), Malmö and Stockholm (Sweden) – interviews, analyses of policies and plans, and close readings of academic literature from a range of different fields, have generated material for the study. The editing of a montage is, however, more than a mere methodological tool or a way of writing; with Rancière’s notion of ‘indisci- plinary thought’ it politicises the way of making the analysis by engaging a variety of perspectives and material in different forms that transgress disciplinary boundaries.

The thesis not only writes the urban void into politically relevant space, but also represents it in a way that makes it obvious as a politically relevant space. It brings the ‘no-spaces’ out of an (assumed) obscurity, yet at the same time de-mystifies the (same) fascinating places, in hope of a less polarised and more nuanced discourse on the urban wastelands. Only then can the existence of the urban void as a category of left over space be questioned, and the thesis concludes by opening up for future inquiry the question of what kind of city could become from a point of view where the urban void is just another kind of space. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Docent Hertting, Nils, Uppsala universitet
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
urban void, urban wasteland, urban planning, urban politics, space, rhythm, undecidable, montage, Derrida, Massey, urban void, urban wasteland, urban planning, urban politics, space, rhythm, undecidable, montage, Derrida, Massey
pages
254 pages
defense location
Edens hörsal, Paradisgatan 5H, Lund
defense date
2016-09-16 10:15
ISBN
978-91-7623-927-8
978-91-7623-926-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
19a06faf-a822-4a2b-8c95-a581df797d4c
date added to LUP
2016-08-25 11:33:05
date last changed
2017-03-01 16:58:44
@phdthesis{19a06faf-a822-4a2b-8c95-a581df797d4c,
  abstract     = {The rugged field and group of trees between housing estates or next to the railroad tracks, the  left-over space of deserted industrial areas, the vacant demolition site of a central city block – they could all  be termed ‘urban voids’. However, they are often anything but voids, in a literal sense, as they are not empty,  or deserted. Yet they are ‘urban voids’, lacking an evident function, or a definition according to a plan. It is a  category of urban space constructed as a nothingness, even though the very same space is often used for a  variety of purposes. The aim of this thesis is to show how the urban void becomes as the constitutive outside  of the City. It investigates the difference made between well-defined urban spaces (known by names such  as ‘street’, ‘park’, ‘parking lot’, ‘housing block’) and the other kind of space. <br/><br/>The production of the void – either it is made a no-space, devoid of any meaning, or a mesmerising rabbit- hole leading to another world – is here understood as fundamentally political. With a relational conception of  space and an anti-essentialist conception of politics and the political, the author conducts a deconstruction- inspired analysis of the becoming of the urban void as another kind of space. The Derridean notion of an  undecidable  provides  a  figure  of  thought  that  hinges  the  analysis  together  with  a  particular  way  of  under- standing  how  dominant  discourses  on  the  City  and  conceptualisations  of  the  urban  void  interact  to  deter- mine each other. It does not present a “truer” version of the urban void, but aims to shake up the dominant  modes of conceptualising the phenomenon. <br/><br/>The analysis engages a variety of texts – whether in the shape of what one might call ‘theory’, or ‘empiri- cal material’, or a TV-series, or a novel – and the thoughts provoked by working with those texts, have  been  edited  into  a  montage.  Fieldwork – in  Athens  (Greece),  Berlin  (Germany),  Brasília  (Brazil),  Malmö  and  Stockholm  (Sweden) – interviews,  analyses  of  policies  and  plans,  and  close  readings  of  academic  literature from a range of different fields, have generated material for the study. The editing of a montage  is, however, more than a mere methodological tool or a way of writing; with Rancière’s notion of ‘indisci- plinary  thought’  it  politicises  the  way  of  making  the  analysis  by  engaging  a  variety  of  perspectives  and  material in different forms that transgress disciplinary boundaries. <br/><br/>The thesis not only writes the urban void into politically relevant space, but also represents it in a way that makes it  obvious as a politically relevant space. It brings the ‘no-spaces’ out of an (assumed) obscurity, yet at the same time  de-mystifies the (same) fascinating places, in hope of a less polarised and more nuanced discourse on the urban  wastelands.  Only  then  can  the  existence  of  the  urban  void  as  a  category  of  left  over  space  be  questioned,  and the thesis concludes by opening up for future inquiry the question of what kind of city could become from  a point of view where the urban void is just another kind of space.},
  author       = {VON SCHÉELE, CECILIA},
  isbn         = {978-91-7623-927-8},
  keyword      = {urban void,urban wasteland,urban planning,urban politics,space,rhythm,undecidable,montage,Derrida,Massey,urban void,urban wasteland,urban planning,urban politics,space,rhythm,undecidable,montage,Derrida,Massey},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {09},
  pages        = {254},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {The void : Urban wasteland as political space},
  year         = {2016},
}