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Cyborg urbanization beyond the human: the construction and ruination of the Matinha gasworks site

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Work on cyborg urbanization has unveiled the way in which the city is produced through hybridizations of the human and non-human. However, less attention has been given to the ways by which non-human actors entangle each other without human mediation. On the other hand, literature on urban ruination has explored the agency of the non-human in landscape transformation, however few works have established the link between the processes of ruination and urban transformation. In this article, we bridge these two literatures and argue that it is possible to extend the concept of cyborg urbanization to include urban transformation processes that are conducted by non-human actors, namely vegetation.

We explore these missing links through an exploration of the Matinha Gasworks site, located in the Eastern Zone of the city of Lisbon, Portugal, and deactivated in 2001. It is a vacant land, with several ruined derelict constructions of a gasworks. We draw upon archival work, remote sensing techniques, and post-phenomenological fieldwork to explore the 80-year long process of construction and ruination of the Matinha Gasworks site. Our findings highlight the accumulation of distinct temporalities, scales, matters, and subjectivities in the production of the urban.
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Keywords: Cyborg; non-human actors; postindustrial; ruination; urban nature

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centro de Estudos Geográficos, IGOT, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal

Publication date: November 26, 2019

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