Andreas Broeckmann on Wed, 19 Apr 2006 20:40:14 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City

dear rana, dear others,

apologies for the three-week lag, but i guess that the topic is big 
enough to endure some spring inertia.

it was interesting and a little surprising to read your response (31 
march) since you now mainly talk about a 'feeling' that you have, and 
what that feeling (also as an historical event in itself) might say 
about the times we live in.

>to me the "feeling" that the third-world metropolis may be, not a place
>of sterility, but a place of fertility - and that it may produce futures
>for the entire world - is interesting *as a feeling*.  it is revelatory
>of feelings about the limits to the creative potential of the western
>city.  it destabilises western narratives of historical development.  it
>diminishes the western monopoly on modernity and gives birth to a plural
>self that might acknowledge other principles.

this is definitely an interesting speculation to pursue, but since 
comparing different cultural situations is complicated, i suggest 
that this can probably best be done in fiction, rather than in a 
factual discourse.

i wonder though which 'western city' it is that you have in mind when 
you counterpose it to 'the third-world metropolis'. this is not a 
polemical remark, since some of the western cities that i have in 
mind, like Liverpool, Lille, or the Ruhr-City (Duisburg, Essen, 
Bochum, Wuppertal, Dortmund, etc.) experienced a comparable 
exponential growth more than a hundred years ago (Essen grew almost 
tenfold between 1870 and 1930), a growth driven by industrialisation, 
and in the last decades all of these cities have had to deal with 
*shrinkage* (if that's a word) - cf 
for a big research project around this phenomenon. - one can take 
this as an indication for a specific 'european' experience, connected 
to its specific instance of 19th/early-20th century industrialisation 
/ modernisation. it's unlikely that early-21st century metropolises 
would take a similar trajectory. however, it may be worth noticing 
that (a) the development in these 'western cities' was accompanied by 
a host of social problems, incl. the evolvement of slums, followed by 
urbanistic slum clearance programmes, and a host of 'wild' cultural 
developments (like socialism), some of which changed the world...; 
and (b), while we are at it, why not also speculate about the future 
of the 'third-world metropolis' whose growth-rates not only seem 
untenable, but which might actually turn into something else, 
disperse, suffer, rejoice, blossom, return, ...

>but i think the heightened
>"visibility" you talk of is certainly more than simple apocalyptic
>euphoria [the third-world city as image of this collective disaster of
>globalisation].  no matter how apocalyptic the situation feels, this
>theme is about new creatures being born, so it is not an end.



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