Reconstructing modernity assesses the character of approaches to rebuilding British cities during the decades after the Second World War. It explores the strategies of spatial governance that sought to restructure society and looks at the cast of characters who shaped these processes. It challenges traditional views of urban modernism as moderate and humanist, shedding new light on the importance of the immediate post-war for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century. The book shows how local corporations and town planners in Manchester and Hull attempted to create order and functionality through the remaking of their decrepit Victorian cities. It looks at the motivations of national and local governments in the post-war rebuilding process and explores why and how they attempted the schemes they did. What emerges is a picture of local corporations, planners and city engineers as radical reshapers of the urban environment, not through the production of grand examples of architectural modernism, but in mundane attempts to zone cities, produce greener housing estates, control advertising or regulate air quality. Their ambition to control and shape the space of their cities was an attempt to produce urban environments that might be both more orderly and functional, but also held the potential to shape society.
Instead of modernity revisits the key moment in the mid-nineteenth century when, it is said, ‘all that is solid melts into air’. Spanning the visual arts, literature, and thought, it reconsiders artists and writers linked to the foundations of modern culture: Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Whitman, Whistler and Courbet. In so doing, it offers an alternative to the obsession with notions of ‘modernity’ that underpin many influential theories of culture. It incorporates the Hispanic world (Spain and Spanish America) into the story of this time, disrupting and reconfiguring the narrative of ‘modernity’, challenging the belief the Hispanic had opened the doors to the ‘modern’ but was overtaken by cultures of the north-west Atlantic. While this points beyond the divide between a supposed core and periphery in culture, the book likewise undermines the patriarchal basis of canonical modernity, giving prominence to women from the painter Rosa Bonheur, and the photographers Jane Clifford and Julia Margaret Cameron, to the actress Matilde Díez. Instead of ‘modernity’, the book conjures visions of intimate connection between places and times, between representations and realities, between selves and others. It explores commonality and similarity. In its own prose, it envisages ways of conducting and writing comparative cultural study, beyond contextualisation and historicisation, drawing on the nineteenth-century imagination. In that spirit, the book finds its way across diverse fields and subject matter, tracing connections between them, from sexuality to optical technology, from brain slices to taxidermy. In so doing, it conjures four moods: meeting, departure, sacifice and repose.
This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The spatial/temporal templates reveal how modern enticements and antinomies, far from being analytical abstractions, intimate instead ontological attributes and experiential dimensions of the worlds in which we live, and the spaces and times that we inhabit and articulate. Then, the book considers the oppositions and enchantments, the contradictions and contentions, and the identities and ambivalences spawned under modernity. At the same time, rather than approach such antinomies, enticements, and ambiguities as analytical errors or historical lacks, which await their correction or overcoming, it attempts to critically yet cautiously unfold these elements as constitutive of modern worlds. The book draws on social theory, political philosophy, and other scholarship in the critical humanities in order to make its claims concerning the mutual binds between everyday oppositions, routine enchantments, temporal ruptures, and spatial hierarchies of a modern provenance. Then, it turns to issues of identity and modernity. Finally, the book explores the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.
This book focuses on the ways in which German urban élites tried to mould German cities between the 'birth' of modern planning in the 1890s and the complete cessation of building caused by the economic collapse around 1930. It investigates the attributes which 'metropolis', was given by early twentieth-century Germans. The book takes Munich as its 'still point in the turning world' of German urban development in particular, but makes arguments relevant well beyond the southern capital's city limits. It presents a case study of the urban landscape of modernity and modernisation which was increasingly. The book commences with exploration of the balanced construction of 'the city' in planners' world views. It addresses contemporaries' 'action plans' as responses to the problems of modernity, and characterises these actions as themselves distinctly modern. The book also tries to restore an emphasis on contemporaries' nuanced views of modernity and modernisation, and explores the balanced construction of 'the city' in planners' world views. Discussing hospitals, old people's homes and social housing, the book discusses that space could be a highly coercive tool for the social reformer, and scholars need to address material effects. It also demonstrates how intellectual impasses in manipulating the technologies of space could have profound political consequences. The ways that the built environment is currently used as evidence in historical writing are problematic. The book treats modernity with little eye for Modernism.
The Experience of Suburban Modernity explores how the adoption of new forms of private transport transformed inter-war suburban London. It shows how London’s suburban middle classes used their newly found disposable income to enjoy driving, motorcycling and flying. The Experience of Suburban Modernity demonstrates that these new practices were welcomed by many, but met resistance to change from those who were dismayed by the accidents that resulted from increased mobility and the aesthetic and cultural changes that were the consequence of Americanization and suburban development. The book is divided into three sections. The first considers each of the private transport technologies in turn: the car, the bicycle and motorcycle, and the aeroplane and shows how they contributed to a sense of suburban modernity. The second section examines the infrastructure that supported these technologies and shows how they were interpreted in contested visions of the meaning of Englishness. The final section describes a set of journeys that demonstrate a condition of suburban modernity. These include the roadhouse, a site of Americanisation and transgression, new mobile practices of consumption, the embodied experiences of driving in a modern way, and the disastrous consequences of air and car accidents.
This chapter considers aspects of
the interplay of modernity and history, as entailing pervasive
procedures of the temporalization of space and the spatialization of
time. We have seen that these protocols have twin dimensions: on the one
hand, they entail routine projections of historical time as necessarily
homogeneous and yet founded on inaugural spatial ruptures; on the other
Engine of Modernity: The Omnibus and Urban Culture in Nineteenth-Century Paris examines the connection between public transportation and popular culture in nineteenth-century Paris through a focus on the omnibus - a horse-drawn vehicle for mass urban transport which enabled contact across lines of class and gender. A major advancement in urban locomotion, the omnibus generated innovations in social practices by compelling passengers of diverse backgrounds to interact within the vehicle’s close confines. Although the omnibus itself did not actually have an engine, its arrival on the streets of Paris and in the pages of popular literature acted as a motor for a fundamental cultural shift in how people thought about the city, its social life, and its artistic representations. At the intersection of literary criticism and cultural history, Engine of Modernity argues that for nineteenth-century French writers and artists, the omnibus was much more than a mode of transportation. It became a metaphor through which to explore evolving social dynamics of class and gender, meditate on the meaning of progress and change, and reflect on one’s own literary and artistic practices.
This chapter focuses on questions
and contentions of identity and modernity, entailing stipulations of
time and space. Instead of approaching identity as an already given
entity that is principally antithetical to modernity, in speaking of
identities my reference is to wide-ranging processes of formations of
subjects, expressing not only particular personhoods but also collective
This book explores modernity, the
disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations
of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and
history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other,
complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on
socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled
This chapter is cast as a personal
narrative. It unravels how I arrived at inklings and understandings of
space and time – alongside those of disciplines and subjects,
modernity and identity – that were explored in the Introduction
and which lie at the core of this book. At stake are intimations that
are at once familiar and strange. For, born to anthropologist parents, I