Mr Sean Knox
2009-2012: PhD Geography, University of Durham.
2008-2009: MA Research Methods (Geography), University of Durham.
2005-2008: BA Geography, University of Durham.
Assembling the 'Urban': The Eventfulness of Place-Making in Newcastle-Gateshead.
The aim of this PhD is to conceptualise and empirically investigate the 'event' of urban place-making in Newcastle-Gateshead. In doing so the project follows the stories of a specific urban masterplan - the '1PLAN' - that seeks to transform, regenerate and improve the urban landscape of Newcastle-Gateshead. Thus, for the purpose of this project the '1PLAN' acts as a heuristic device through which one can examine and investigate the making of urban-place.
From this the project seeks to speak on two levels: i) primarily it tells the stories of a spatial and economic masterplan for Newcastle-Gateshead and the banal, prosaic and procedural practices and processes that were/are involved in its formulation, inscription and execution; and ii) at a greater depth the project speaks more broadly about the making of urban-place, the assembling of cities and how this can be conceptualised and understood from the perspective of assemblage.
Assembling the 'Urban': A Methodological Exploration.
A concept of assemblage has enjoyed a recent blossoming of interest within, and beyond, human geographical praxis, being utilised to grasp phenomena, among others, as diverse as power blackouts (Bennett, 2005), an aircraft (Law, 2002), a steel plant (Swanton, 2008a), the emergence of race (Swanton, 2008b), social movements (McFarlane, 2009), and a stall at a farmers market (Spiller, 2009). While such work has demonstrated the theoretical energy and effectiveness of a notion of assemblage to grapple with and conceptualise what are complex, fluid and non-linear social and geographical phenomena, it has equally demonstrated and contributed (with the exception of Swanton, 2008b) to recent concerns that the research practices of geographers lag behind the pace of their theoretical talk (Pratt, 2000) leading to claims of ‘methodological timidity’ within the discipline (Thrift, 2000; cf: Crang, 2005). The aim of this dissertation is to offer a modest attempt to narrow this methodological lag with regards to a concept of assemblage by means of exploring, developing and testing the ability of range of research methods to illuminate and animate the complexities highlighted by its conceptual deployment.
In seeking to answer the above the dissertation will draw inspiration from Sarah Sze’s, the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award winning artist and architect, ‘Tilting Planet’ installation. In this exhibition Sze creates connected clusters of sculptural installations each cobbled together out of common disposable items with the outcome resembling a city-scape - a city composed of multiple, fragile, ephemeral, and connected materialities – an urban assemblage. The dissertation will draw upon the means by which the space, objects and the relations in the installation presented themselves as an urban assemblage – how one goes about understanding the space – as a means to develop methods that can be applied to thinking the urban / the city as an assemblage, that can illuminate and animate the complexities it presents. Hence: wandering, walking, contemplating, reading guides, taking photos, speaking to others, questioning others, touching, smelling, looking – the embodied practices through which one understands the installation as an assemblage become key to thinking how to go about methodologically operationalising a concept of assemblage for the urban. Thus, methodologically this will entail an ethnographic approach – based upon a similar logic to Law’s (2004) notion of a method assemblage – it will utilise a range of methods, inspired by how one negotiates the gallery, that each seek to enliven aspects of the assemblage-becoming.
- Knox, Sean D Mobile Urbanism: Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age. Urban Studies. Submitted.
- Knox, Sean D Regenerating Culture and Society: Architecture, Art and Urban Style within the Global Politics of City Branding. Urban Studies. Forthcoming;49.