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.
Arundhati Virmani (Centre Norbert Elias/EHESS, Marseilles, France) is a specialist in colonial and contemporary Indian history.