The Coordinated City’s Mutation Machine: Capitalism, Sympathy, and Urbanization in Seattle’s South Lake Union Neighborhood
Harris, Gregory Keith
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This dissertation intervenes in a debate that was published in the journal City in 2011 over how Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptual repertoire might profitably contribute to critical urban inquiry. However, rather than siding with the pro-Deleuze and Guattari contingent that can loosely be lumped together as “assemblage urbanists” on the one hand, or with the proponents of more traditional Marxian critical urban theory on the other, I argue that Deleuze and Guattari’s underexplored political philosophy is not only capable of grounding critical urban inquiry, but is nuanced enough to address not only the productive role of political economy, but also extraeconomic concerns, such as ethics and aesthetics, both of which are significant forces in many cities, including the redevelopment of the South Lake Union (SLU) neighborhood (Seattle, Washington, USA). Also drawing on Deleuze’s reading of David Hume, I argue that all institutionalized motivations, both economic and extraeconomic, are but different rationalizations of underlying human sympathies, and that given this common foundation, it is necessary to develop a critical urban theory that can also account for the typically neglected and often marginalized sphere of the extraeconomic. This argument is based on a close reading of Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptualizations of the relationship between the state and capitalism across both volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia that I adapt for urban studies via a Foucauldian archaeology of SLU. In terms of content, the empirical investigation that spans sixty years of documents related to statewide growth management, regional planning, as well as urban comprehensive planning and a local developer with a compatible vision of how urban redevelopment should occur, leads me to posit that we are seeing a new form of coordinated urbanism, and that all these entities together can be understood as constituting what I call the Coordinated City’s Mutation Machine.
- Built environment