A new urban dispositif? governing life in an age of climate change

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In an interview in 1977 Michel Foucault proposed the term dispositif for a heterogeneous set of discourses, practices, architectural forms, regulations, laws, and knowledges connected together into an apparatus of government. Drawing upon later articulations of the concept by Gilles Deleuze and Giorgio Agamben, and exploring a range of innovations in the 'management' of urban life, this paper reworks Foucault's concept as a means for understanding-and potentially contesting-new modes of government that have emerged in response to the crisis of climate change. Against understandings of 'government' in terms of a totalizing plan from which new practices and technologies usher forth, this paper emphasizes the ad hoc, and ex post facto nature of 'government' as a set of diverse and loosely connected efforts to introduce 'economy' into existing relations in response to a perceived 'crisis'. The paper concludes by exploring Agamben's notion of 'profanation' as an adequate political response to the dispositif of resilient urbanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 19 2014


  • Cities
  • Climate change
  • Government
  • Profanation
  • Technology

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