Urban Green Assemblages

timer Asked: Sep 20th, 2015

Question description

ant and green city.pdf This commentary refers to the article titled "Urban Green Assemblages: An ANT View on Sustainable City Building Projects" by Anders Blok. 

This article helped me better understand ANT theory by providing contrasts between assemblage urbanism (which follows ANT theory) and typical urban studies. According to Blok, the city is a de-centered object when analyzed with ANT theory. The city is an assemblage of "situated techniques and flows" that promotes a more holistic (or ecological) approach to the city. Thus, ANT theory is a less human-centered approach to city planning and development; it stresses "urban materiality, natures and non-humans".

Additionally, a city, according to ANT, is considered "local" or "global" not by fixed geographical coordinates, but by the scale of its impact. This is an important component to analyzing the city on a more holistic scale because big cities can have little global impact in specific realms (such as sustainability), while smaller cities can have a much broader approach. The example city, Nordhavn, is not the most well-known city in the world, but has one of the largest and most innovative approaches to sustainability in the world.  In this case, local decision making has a large, global impact that affects those far beyond its city limits. 

The one question I had from the article derives from the statement that ANT does not focus on overarching and all-encompassing power structures, such as "global neoliberal capitalism". Why does ANT not focus on this aspect? When one attributes a city's behaviors and patterns to an overarching force such as capitalism, is this a blanket statement (taking a one-size-fits all approach)? So, instead we should focus on the nuances that differentiate city structures, such as localized project sites? By taking a more localized approach, to my best understanding, we would be employing the urban assemblages approach (that has an ecological, more holistic focus) in contrast to the urban studies approach (which is human-centered). Do you think ANT is missing an important component to city analysis when not including overarching influences such as neoliberal capitalism?

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