Circulation and Urbanization is a foundational investigation into the history of the urban. Moving beyond both canonical and empirical portrayals, the book approaches the urban through a genealogy of circulation – a concept central to Western political thought and its modes of spatial planning. Locating architectural knowledge in a wider network of political history, legal theory, geography, sociology and critical theory, and drawing on maritime, territorial and colonial histories, Adams contends that the urban arose in the nineteenth century as an anonymous, parallel project of the emergent liberal nation state. More than a reflection of this state form or the product of the capitalist relations it fostered, the urban is instead a primary instrument for both: at once means and ends. Combining analytical precision with interdisciplinary insights, this book offers an astonishing new set of propositions for revisiting a familiar, yet increasingly urgent, topic. It is a vital resource for all students and scholars of architecture and urban studies. This book is part of the Society and Space series, which explores the fascinating relationship between the spatial and the social. These stimulating, provocative books draw on a range of theories to examine key cultural and political issues of our times, including technology, globalisation and migration.
Introduction: What Is Urbanization?
‘Ruralize the urban: urbanize the rural: . . . Fill the Earth.’ This proclamation appeared on the frontispiece of Ildefonso Cerdá’s seminal work, Teoría general de la urbanización (General Theory of Urbanization), published in 1867. It captures the intoxicated zeal with which Cerdá sought to persuade his colleagues that he had discovered not a new type of city, but a system for the co-organization of life and infrastructure that would do away with the city altogether. In its place, an edgeless, centreless grid of fluid circulation and administered domesticity would extend across the Earth, accommodating a calculated distribution of population and services. The ‘urbe’, as he called it, was indeed not a city at all, but a template ...