Translocality and new conceptualizations of urban space
Setha Low (Graduate Center, CUNY)
Paper short abstract:
New conceptions of urban space are changing the way we imagine the city. Translocal spaces offer urban dwellers the ability to experience a wider sense of community and the world. These spaces transgress our notions of materiality by expanding the boundaries of transnational social fields.
Paper long abstract:
New conceptions of urban space are changing the way we imagine the city. In particular translocal spaces offer a myriad of possibilities for immigrants and other urban dwellers to experience a wider sense of community and the world. These transformative spaces transgress our usual notions of materiality by expanding the boundaries through transnational experiences and social fields. Translocality is understood as embodied spatial practices that encompass the experiences, materialities, and imaginaries of the everyday lived in multiple places. In my ethnographic rendering a person who lives in two locations often separated by national boundaries and distance has emotional, linguistic, bodily and material access to both places simultaneously. The metaphors and materialitiesof texting, messaging, instant cash transfers and talking by telephone, Skype or EVO provide an immediacy of experience and the interpenetration of one place into the other(s). For the individuals and collectivities that live in these circuits, urban life is translocal, inflected with the smells, sounds, feelings, and speech of each place, yet also limited by the structural and physical constraints of corporeality in the same way that Bourdieu argues that class or gender is marked, remembered, and reproduced through habitus. I argue, however, that translocality transcends individual bodies through the affective processes and circulations. Thus translocal space is more than a single person's phenomenology, and instead a spatial emplacement of multiple urban places shared by families, neighborhoods, groups, and communities through the superposition of localities enabled by the space-time compression and mobile technologies of late capitalism.
Urban futures (WCAA/IUAES/JASCA joint panel) CLOSED - 10