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An Immanentist Approach to the Urban

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Abstract:  This paper is a critical engagement with immanentist approaches to cities. Geographers approaching the urban through an immanentist lens—primarily inspired by Gilles Deleuze's work—have called into question transcendent determination, namely the determination of material reality by an external and ontologically distinct substance. This has been an implicit assumption in approaches that reduce contemporary urban developments to “effects of globalization” or “impacts of neoliberalism”. I identify two major shortcomings within the recent immanentist critique: first, their rejection of the notion of a structure in toto, and second, their noticeable silence on Louis Althusser despite his unique contribution to the question of complex causality and his shared trajectories with and influence on Deleuze. By using illustrations from the ongoing urban renewal program in Istanbul, I speculate on the ways in which an Althusserian notion of “immanent structure” could contribute to a better understanding of cities as multiplicities.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability, Singapore;

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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