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Cities as Aesthetic Subjects

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matt DaviesORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article explores the theory of the subject and of subjectivity in relation to recent debates on the emergence of cities as spaces that are transforming global politics and international relations. Engaging with the contributions to the theory of the subject in the work of Michael Shapiro, Gayatri Spivak, and Jodi Dean, the argument develops an account of the city as an aesthetic subject. In this account, subjectivity is not a property of an individual human but is instead a force and resource emerging through the subject’s engagement in the aporetic boundary practices that define and delimit the subject’s possibilities. This understanding of subjectivity is then developed in relation to the material metaphors of urban fabric as explored by China Miéville in his novel, The City & The City. The article concludes by revisiting the idea that cities have emerged as crucial spaces or actors in response to diverse global crises, arguing that accounts of cities that reproduce the model of the subject as an individual with defined properties – in terms of the qualities attributed to the city as it seeks to become a node in globalised networks – also fail to account for the politics of the city as an aesthetic subject. This politics is a “wild politics”, unbounded by the borders that seek to contain and separate fiction and fabrication, concept and material.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tedesco D, Davies M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Globalizations

Year: 2022

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 07/09/2022

Acceptance date: 22/08/2022

Date deposited: 08/09/2022

ISSN (print): 1474-7731

ISSN (electronic): 1474-774X

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2022.2117505


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