Unlearning The City: Infrastructure In A New Optical Field by Swati ChattopadhyayUnlearning The City: Infrastructure In A New Optical Field by Swati Chattopadhyay

Unlearning The City: Infrastructure In A New Optical Field

bySwati Chattopadhyay

Paperback | December 31, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 195 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 3-5 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


Cities are more than concrete and steel infrastructure. But modern urban theory does not have the language to describe and debate the vital component of urban life that is lived on the streets of cities and towns. Swati Chattopadhyay has written a nuanced argument for a new vocabulary of the city in Unlearning the City, proposing a way of analyzing the materiality of the urban that captures the ever-changing element of human experience.

Urban life is intrinsically messy and usually refuses to conform to the rigid views laid down in much of urban studies theory. Chattopadhyay looks at urban life in India with a fresh perspective that incorporates the everyday and the unstructured. As the first to apply the theories of subalternity for an understanding of urban history, Chattopadhyay provides an in-depth study of vehicular art, street cricket, political wall writing, and religious festivities that link the visual and spatial attributes of these popular cultural forms with the imagination and practices of urban life. She contends that these practices have a direct impact on the configuration and knowledge of public space, and the political potential of the people inhabiting cities.

Unlearning the City uses the popular culture of Indian cities to question the dominant conception of urban infrastructure and encourage a conceptual realignment in how the city is seen, discussed, and even experienced.

Swati Chattopadhyay is professor of history of art and architecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Title:Unlearning The City: Infrastructure In A New Optical FieldFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 10 × 7 × 1.5 inPublished:December 31, 2012Publisher:University of Minnesota PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0816679320

ISBN - 13:9780816679324

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents


Preface: Unlearning the City

Analytic Index

1. Flows and Bumpy Roads

2. The Optical Field

3. Provincial Cosmopolitanism

4. Armature and Experience

5. Writing on the Walls

6. Auto-mobility

7. Fungible Geographies

Conclusion: Infra-Structure




Editorial Reviews

"This book produces some of the most insightful intersections between urban, postcolonial, and cultural theories that I have come across. It is also a highly creative challenge to the overemphasis on local politics and social cognition that has become the usual venue to think about the capacities of urban residents to make the city in multiple ways." —Abumaliq Simone, author of City Life from Jakarta to Dakar: Movements at the Crossroads