If only it could speak: narrative explorations of mobility and place in Seattle

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Abstract

This paper engages with the way we understand ‘place' by telling a story about transformation and urban intervention related to transportation, infrastructure and socio-technical mobility systems. By looking into a case of North American urban development with a focus on urban mobility we argue for seeing ‘place' as defined by multiple configurations of flow and friction, stasis and speed. The aim is to move beyond a dichotomy of sedentary/nomad understandings of ‘place'. Rather we aim to explore a notion of ‘place' as defined by relational linkages and mobility patterns (of flow as well as stasis). Empirically we will explore this by ‘giving voice' to one of the current and very large urban interventions in North America namely the reconstruction of the State Route 99 connection passing Seattle. The ‘Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Project' is used as a 'prism' letting us explore the usefulness of the ‘place' notion advocated here. If we give voice to the hard infrastructures, they would tell stories about how infrastructures and mobility systems are both material and cultural artifacts that we need to understand very different from the utilitarian and instrumental perception guiding much urban planning and design today. Given the complexity of infrastructure and mobility systems the story unfolding is one where the artifact in question assembles multiple voices from the field constituting ‘place'. This paper thus invites to explore what would happen in relation to infrastructure and transit space ‘if only it could speak'.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2010
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventCultures of Movement: Mobile Subjects, Communities, and Technologies in the Americas - Victoria, Canada
Duration: 8 Apr 201010 Apr 2010

Conference

ConferenceCultures of Movement: Mobile Subjects, Communities, and Technologies in the Americas
CountryCanada
CityVictoria
Period08/04/201010/04/2010

Keywords

  • Narrative, Mobility, Place

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