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Steve Graham – Vertigo: for a vertical turn in critical urban social science



Event date: 8 December 2010
Bedford Square London
WC1E 6DP

Royal Holloway University of London Department of Geography

Vertical Geographies


Recent geographical scholarship has highlighted the importance of ‘verticality’ – aerial and three dimensional perspectives – in conceptualizations of space, territory, sovereignty and power. Within the subdiscipline of critical geopolitics, this interest has been, in part, provoked by recent events in Iraq and Afghanistan and mobilized though broader discussions of warfare, surveillance, air (and space) power, communications technologies and military hardware.

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Steve Graham (University of Newcastle)
Vertigo: for a vertical turn in critical urban social science

This wide-ranging, synthetical paper offers a cross-cuang view of a range of emerging research on the politics of verticality which a^end to contemporary urban spaces. Arguing that critical urban  social science has long neglected the vertical aspects of urban life, the paper seeks starting points  for a vertical turn within such research through engaging with recent research in architecture, political theory and cultural studies on the intersections of architecture and contemporary colonial  power, the profusion of skyscrapers and subterranean architectures, and the proliferation of vertically-organised sensors and targeting and imaging systems within security, military and  cultural circuits. These emerging developments are connected with earlier discourses on the  politics of vertical architecture, aeriality and the vertical view within urban studies, architecture,  cartography and geopolitics. The paper finishes with a reflection on the challenges of addressing  the politics of verticality and aeriality within critical urban social science.

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