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« John Matthew Barlow, Ph.D. | Main | Proportionality, Wanton Destruction, and Intent »
Sunday
15Mar

Concluding Remarks (With Nods to Marc and Nate)

I would like to thank Mike for organising this symposium and for his patience (especially with my rudimentary technological abilities). I would also like to thank everyone who contributed to what for me was a very stimulating discussion. I have learnt much, pushed myself to (re)think elements of the project that had remained obscure, and gleaned some important pointers with regard to further directions for my projects. I’d like to finish by commenting on the two posts that remain unanswered at this stage: Marc’s comments on cyborgs and symbiots; and Nate’s comments on law and social transformation.

Marc, I have not replied directly as I think that we are moving in the same direction, if perhaps operating in different disciplinary registers. Moreover, your comments refer to conceptual questions that I am only beginning to get to grips with. I agree that a distinction needs to be drawn between things that merely replace extant functions of the subject and things that augment/enhance subjectivity itself. I think that contemporary urban infrastructure gives rise to a distinctive form of subjectivity. But I know, from reading your comments that I need to be much more precise about this. Your comments have been very helpful in this regard.

Nate, your comments seem a fitting place for me to end. These comments are directly concerned with the question of what a scholar may accomplish in writing a book like mine. You are of course right that there is more that can flow from my argument than an appeal for legal avenues to hold urbicidaires responsible for their crimes. I hope, however, that I have indicated here that the idea of a crime against the built environment is not the only conclusion we could draw from the book. This idea is merely one avenue that we could explore to translate the account of heterogeneity I have advanced into concrete claims for the recognition of harms to difference.

There are of course other directions one could take my argument in. Civil society activism is a very good example. The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions or B'Tselem are good examples as are the many instances of peace activists rebuilding demolished Palestinian infrastructure. I don’t think activism and law are mutually exclusive. In fact both should be pursued simultaneously.

Of course your comments raise the question of the relation of the activity of producing this book in relation to the activism necessary to contest urbicidal violence. On this question I am more ambivalent. I hope the book outlines a problem poorly understood by the extant literature. I hope, therefore, that it opens avenues of thought that may not have previously existed. But I am also aware that it is only really in the exposure of these ideas to discussion and critique (both in fora such as this as well as in the classroom) that these hopes stand some chance of realisation. Hence, my gratitude to everyone in this symposium for the opportunity to discuss the argument at greater length.

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