To what extent do urban dwellers relate to their lived and imagined environment through aesthetic perceptions, and aspirations? This book approaches experiences of urban aesthetics not as an established framework, defined by imposed norms or legislations, but as the result of a continuous reflexive and proactive gaze, a complex and deep engagement of the mind, body and sensibilities. It uses empirical studies ranging from China, India to Western Europe.
Three axes are privileged. The first considers urban everyday aesthetic experiences in the long-term as a historical production, from medieval Italy to a future imagined by science fiction. The second examines the impact of aestheticizing everyday material realities in neighbourhoods, and the tensions and conflicts these engender around urban commons. Finally, the third axis considers these relationships as aesthetic inequalities, exacerbated in a new age of urban development. The book combines local and transnational scales with an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together historians, sociologists, cultural geographers, anthropologists, architects, and contemporary art curators. They illustrate the importance of combining different social science methods and functional perspectives to study such complex social and cultural realities as cities.
This book will be of interest to students, scholars and practitioners of humanities and social sciences, cultural and urban studies, architecture and political geography.
Table of Contents
Part I Aesthetic perceptions of urban environments: A long-term perspective
Chapter 1. Pulcritudo civitatis. Aesthetic gazes on cities in communal Italy (12th-14th centuries)
Chapter 2. London, Paris, Rome … Travellers’ experiences of early modern European cities
Chapter 3. Cities destroyed, cities rebuilt: sightseeing after a cataclysm London 1666, Lisbon 1755
Chapter 4. The vertical city in science fiction. Urban utopia or social nightmare?
Part II Urban everyday aesthetics as a common good
Chapter 5. Whose river is it anyway? River as commons, river as neighbor – The Yamuna in Delhi
Chapter 6. Negotiating advertising aesthetics in early 20th century Shanghai
Chapter 7. A Plea for Do(ing) the Right Thing. An Ordinary Dog Day in Bed-Stuy
Chapter 8. Experiencing the urban through the prism of fiction and cinema in postcolonial India
Part III Aesthetic inequalities, a challenge for urban grammar
Chapter 9. From aesthetic assets to sensitive public policies: for an ethic of the affective city
Laurent Mathey and Rémi Baudouï
Chapter 10. Battling aesthetic inequalities in contemporary cities: afterthoughts of an Indian architect
Chapter 11. The aesthetics of slum? Exploring the lived and the imagined narratives of Dharavi (Mumbai)
Marie-Caroline Saglio-Yatzimrsky and Min Tang
Chapter 12. Changing the metropolitan face in India. Interview with Giulia Ambrogi
Afterword. Inhabiting a city is not a planned activity
Arundhati Virmani (EHESS, Marseilles, France) is a specialist in colonial and contemporary Indian history.