The City is Where the Gods are Living

Thursday, 13. September 2012


Madeleine Imbeck / Arpad Hetey

Having written a lot of text on the first day of this conference, the presentations by Christian Schmid and Ludger Hovestadt inspired me to retain some thoughts graphically.

As already discussed on Wednesday, our understanding of “a city” might need to be rethought. Usually, we relate cities to the territory they occupy. But cities can also be understood as a certain way of living. Historically, a city is where the Gods are living. A good way of living was associated with these sacred places.
This good way of living doesn’t appear on traditional maps. Urban life is made up of all the activities going on in a city. On a city map, we solely see the road network. This might not be sufficient to make any conclusions about a city. Therefore new ways of mapping cities and mapping urbanization are developed which promote a more holistic understanding.
In the early 20th century, cities became generic, which lead to conflicts with identity. In a generic environment identity is defined by negation: “I am not…”.
Today, people moving to cities are still searching for a good way of living, but living in a city with little money is associated with a worse lifestyle than poor rural life. Ludger Hovestadt proposed a new understanding of sociologic processes as interplay of economy and politics. Urbanization is thus just one of the visible results of this interplay. Seeing history as an interplay and not an evolutionary process may lead to beneficial strategies to face the challenge of sustainable development.

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