Even as the bulk of my research has centered on spaces of mobility that are not generally associated with every-day life (ocean-space and the infosphere), I have maintained a consistent secondary interest in cities, in particular the politics of urban planning. My first urban article (in fact, my first article in a refereed journal) was based on my experience prior to graduate school directing a community group in New York City opposing a large development proposed for the Atlantic Terminal site near downtown Brooklyn. A second article, which was sparked by observations made while conducting an industrial history consultancy for the National Park Service, examines the role of ideology in the built environment and social relations of a small Rhode Island mill village.
After a hiatus of several years from urban scholarship, I began to reconsider the politics of urban planning in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When the disaster hit, in August-September 2005, I had just begun a year-long fellowship at the University of California, Santa Cruz’ Center for Cultural Studies. I took advantage of my position there to organize a multi-disciplinary conference on the implications of Katrina for urban theory, Reflections on Katrina: Place, Persistence, and the Lives of Cities. This conference spawned a partnership between myself and Rob Shields of the University of Alberta which culminated in our book What is a City? Rethinking the Urban After Hurricane Katrina.
My urban publications include:
- Territorial formation on the margin: urban anti-planning in Brooklyn (Political Geography, 1994) | PDF (behind paywall)
- Place, power, and paternalism: imagined histories and welfare capitalism in Burrillville, Rhode Island, 1912-1951 (Urban Geography, 2000) | PDF (behind paywall)
- What Is a City? Rethinking the Urban after Hurricane Katrina (with Rob Shields; University of Georgia Press, 2008) | Website
- Liquid urbanity: re-engineering the city in a post-terrestrial world (in Engineering Earth: The Impacts of Megaengineering Projects, Springer, 2011) | Website
- Atlas swam: freedom, capital, and the seasteading vision (with Elizabeth Nyman & Mauro Caraccioli; Antipode, 2012) | PDF (behind paywall) | Companion Video (open access)
I also have a long-standing interest in understanding how, when our visions of cities become fused with images of oceans and islands, they become repositories of utopian ambitions. My publications in this area are discussed in more detail in the section on my island research.