Planning Affectively: Power, Affect, and Images of the Future

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Planning Theory

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This article addresses the deficit between affect theory and planning scholarship. In doing so, we focus on three intertwined theoretical ideas, all of which underlie the practical experiences of navigating place change. First, we consider the desire of power to control that which overwhelms the body’s capacity for being affected. Second, we situate the confrontation between power and uncertainty (e.g. over a place’s future) in the milieu or atmosphere of a place. Third, we put place theory into conversation with Lauren Berlant’s concept of “impasse” to examine place attachments during the flux of rapid redevelopment. To animate these theoretical ideas, the latter portion of the article discusses the nearly complete redevelopment of a subsection of Portland’s (OR, USA) Pearl District neighborhood and the “images of the future” that adorn almost every local construction site. Relying on the work of Deleuze and Berlant among others, we address these images as mediations of power, on the grounds of the affects that elude control, and in the context of resident anxieties about uncertain futures and fraying place attachments. Throughout the article we locate planning in the same “between” spaces that affective analyses so adeptly identify. We argue that this positions planning scholarship as a natural forum for exploring the affective infrastructures that enliven the relationships between people and places.


© The Author(s) 2018



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