The Urban (in)Formal: Reinterpreting the Globalized City through Deleuze and Guattari
Co, Allan Villanueva
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This thesis provides a new definition of globalization within the social and spatial terrains of cities, one that is intricately linked to the growth of "informal urbanism," sub-market economies and the ad-hoc construction of slums. It argues that informality is not anomalous to the otherwise homogenized image of the contemporary global city, but rather forms a crucial part of an urban terrain created from a configuration of opposing forces, the formal and the informal, which are in a constant state of exchange. In support of these arguments, this thesis draws upon Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's A Thousand Plateaus. The theoretical source is crucial as it offers an interpretation of the city as an assemblage of disparate pieces, their relationships being a negotiation of "the smooth and the striated," the whole being a body like the "rhizome." These theorists supply this thesis' vocabulary and conceptualization, used as new tools for interpretation and description. This thesis then uses multi-scalar case studies informed by these writings in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Caracas, Venezuela, to reinterpret the globalized city. It considers each city's historical narrative, as well as the role of informality on the urban and neighborhood scales, to demonstrate complexity within the socio-spatial terrain of the city, developed from a interplay between many seemingly incongruous segments.. Reinterpreting the contemporary global city through the dynamic exchange between these informal and formal geographies, this thesis asserts that informality is merely a different expression of the forces that accompany globalization and in so doing it advocates for a more holistic view. It questions the bases of contemporary urban analysis and challenges prior research to reevaluate the very nature of how cities are considered. Informality is one piece of the urban terrain - a layering of disparate elements. It is a condition not yet adequately understood in the discourses of modern Western urban theory, but one that will offer some insight into the future of the metropolis.
- Architecture