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Between Process and Individuation: Translating Metaphors and Narratives of Urban Space

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Metaphors have long been crucial for informing critical understanding about space: Lefebvre speaks of rhythms and waves; Harvey of circulation and flow. Each theorist adopts metaphors that highlight the processual nature of capitalist social space. This paper suggests that when space is redescribed in process terms theorists invariably revert to metaphors of temporality, and all sense of richly textured everyday space disappears. Metaphors of process aren't particularly useful in everyday experience, yet in redescribing the concrete world metaphors frequently portray a static reality. We are presented with a clash of metaphors and neither is adequate. The paper argues for the need to translate between different metaphors of urban space, an argument developed by exploring the work of Henri Lefebvre, Jane Jacobs and Antonio Gramsci, and finds in Gramsci some tips on engaging in this translation, and constructing a more wholesome political redescription.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, King's College London

Publication date: October 1, 1997


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