Infoscience

Thesis

The City of Extended Emotions

Cities are much more than just the background of our lives, or complex artefacts. They are the social field and the content over which we quarrel; the reason and the tool by which we co-operate. Cities are shaped in the form of our passions. Those passions do not just give meaning to our world and to our lives, they prompt us to act upon them by enacting new spatialities to come. This thesis deals with the enactment of new forms of space and city through emotions. The recently identified “New Urban Question” defines the combination of increasing social inequalities, growing spatial segregation, and climate change vulnerabilities that crystallize in our cities. It also signals a crisis in design and planning disciplines, urging researchers and designers to renew their methods for studying and designing the city. In response to this call, my research considers the way emotions shape both our way of understanding and making cities. Despite often disregarded as either contagious and irrational hysteria or a subjective question of taste, I claim emotions to be a constitutive dimension of the urban condition. In urban conflict specifically, both the urban condition and affective phenomena become salient and their relevance is highlighted. The recent activities of a group of activists and social movements in Madrid - emerged around the mobilizations of the 15M in Spain - constitute an ideal context for this research, for they are spatially constituted and are spatially performative. Their contentious actions take the form of a series of spatial practices, called in this thesis New Urban Practices, where I find a potential answer to both the crisis of the contemporary city and its mirroring crisis in architecture and urbanism. I approach the analysis of New Urban Practices in Madrid through three complementary empirical studies that tackle space, action and emotion, making use of a transdisciplinary mixed-methods approach. The first study tackles the spatial conditions of porosity that have accompanied the emergence and development of these social movements. It uses methods developed by Space Syntax to analyse spatial configuration and cartography and demographics to analyse the spatial content. The second study elaborates on the actions of these social movements, their spatial practices. In this study, I use cartography and ethnographic methods to capture and analyse both the momentary seizing of space and the latent creation of new sovereign urban spaces that defy current segregative urbanism. Finally, the third study explores the emotions felt and experienced by these activists. Through emotional dimensional analysis and discursive analysis of surveys and in-depth interviews, I find participants undergo a substantive transformation of their spatial perception accompanying a strong emotional transition. Using theories of Extended Emotions and the ideas behind SIRN, I conclude by identifying urbanity as an extended emotion. In addition, the modes of using and producing city space of the New Urban Practices are found to pose a new model of urban governance and action, the urban prototype, proposing a more inclusive, democratic and socially sustainable forms of enacting our cities, in Europe and worldwide.

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