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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Crang, M. Rhythms of the city: temporalised space and motion. In: May, J. & Thrift, N. Timespace geographies of Temporality. London: Routledge; 2001:187-207.

Author(s) from Durham


This essay is concerned with the intersection of lived time,
time as represented and urban space - especially around everyday practice.
As such it follows in a long pedigree of works addressing time and space
in the city. However, what I want to try and rethink some approaches to
offer a less stable version of the everyday, and through this a sense of
practice as an activity creating time-space not time space as some matrix
within which activity occurs. The essay thus addresses the paradox that
Stewart identifies where the ��temporality of everyday life is marked
by an irony which is its own creation, for this temporality is held to be
ongoing and non-reversible and, at the same time characterized by
repetition and predictability�� (1984, p14). I want to thus look both
at stability but also the emergence of new possibilities through everyday
temporality. To do this I want to proceed through four circuits, each
picking up and expanding upon the previous, developing and transforming
it. The first circuit serves to locate the everyday through the study of
temporality. The study of the chronopolitics and regulation of daily life
serves as an entree into why ��the everyday�� matters. The
multiple rhythms and temporalities of urban life this form the back-cloth
for this essay �C what Lefebvre evoked, but hardly explained, as a
rhythmanalysis. The second circuit picks up on this but to adds the
insights of time-geography in the paths and trajectories that individuals
and groups make through the city. Introducing a sense of human action and
motility into the experience of time offers a new step while the
combination of time-space routines serves to link the everyday to the
reproduction of social regularities (Pred 1982). However, the sense of
time-space created through time geography is rather rarefied, so the third
circuit seeks to develop a critique and step sidewise through a concern
with the differences between lived and represented times - a focus on
experiential time-space that will lead to considering phenomenological
accounts. Time and space cease to be simply containers of action. These it
will be suggested begin to offer a sense of space-time as Becoming, a
sense of temporality as action, as performance and practice �C indeed
the difference as well as repetition. The possibility as Grosz (1999)
argues for not merely the novel, but the unforeseen. However, the fourth
circuit suggests that these still share an idea of the self-presence of
everyday experience, and will open up ideas of events as problematising
the everyday. This attempts to both keep a sense of fecundity in the
everyday without it becoming a recourse to ground thinking in an
��ultimate non-negotiable reality�� (Felski 2000:15). The essay
then argues for a sense of greater instability - or perhaps better,
fragility - within the everyday. This essay thus focuses on the flow of
experience for the social subject. It is also important to think through
the topology and texture of temporality in the urban fabric, the city as
well as its people, but that is a task for a different occasion (see Crang
& Travlou, 2001).


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Department of Geography