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James Holston on ‘Insurgent Citizenship’

“I want to argue that one of the most urgent problems in planning and architectural theory today is the need to develop a different social imagination — one that is not modernist but that nevertheless reinvents modernism’s activist commitments to the invention of society and to the construction of the state. I suggest that the sources of this new imaginary lie not in any specifically architectural or planning production of the city but rather in the development of theory in both fields as an investigation into what I call the spaces of insurgent citizenship....By insurgent, I mean to emphasize the opposition of these spaces of citizenship to the modernist spaces that physically dominate so many cities today. I also use it to emphasize an opposition to the modernist political project that absorbs citizenship into a plan of state building and that, in the process, generates a certain concept and practice of planning itself. ... The spaces of an insurgent citizenship constitute new metropolitan forms of the social not yet liquidated by or absorbed into the old. As such, they embody possible alternative futures.”

James Holston, from “Spaces of Insurgent Citizenship” in Cities and Citizenship, 1999.   

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don’t necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

Credits: Photo by Jacobo Méndez.