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Talk “The air as the end of the city?” at HU Berlin

“The air as the end of the city?” Talk “The air as the end of the city?” at HU Berlin

Nerea Calvillo gives the talk “The air as the end of the city?” as part of THE WORLD/S AT THE ENDS OF THE CITY, EXPLORATIONS IN URBAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGY Lecture Series, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, HU Berlin

23 April 2019


The air tends to be absent from urban politics, design, and imaginaries. Usually conceived as that what defines the end of the city, it is actually a structural component of urban environments. Today, its pollution is drawing attention to its agencies. And yet, the only legitimate ways of knowing and responding to air quality are technological “solutions” that are proving not to be enough. One of the reasons, I argue, is because the air’s materiality is not considered in its complexity. So to think about the air as an organic, inorganic, geological, chemical, technological and biological force, challenges our understanding of the city and of the air. To shape an urban cosmopolitics with the air, from a framework at the intersection of science and technologies studies, feminist technoscience and urban political ecologies, I suggest to use the heuristic of a city to identify Madrid’s urban assemblage. Madrid, as a very polluted but average European city, allows to think about the urban air of the every-day, the one that is invisible and mostly imperceptible. The heuristic of the city, as a speculative project, allows to spatialize the air, and makes visible its political and social implications. How can this approach contribute to new framings of the air and the urban?