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Saturday, Jul 18, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
by Zack Furness
Bad Subjects (2007)

Academic scholarship in the humanities and social sciences is said to have taken a ‘spatial turn’ in recent years. In addition to waves of articles and books devoted to the theorization of space and place, there’s a wider collective emphasis on the role that physical environments play in the configuration of economics, art, politics, communication, gender and culture. Geography is experiencing a rebirth of sorts and it is largely due to the efforts of scholars like David Pinder—a lecturer in Geography at Queen Mary, University of London and a current visiting fellow at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the City University of New York Graduate Center. Pinder’s work in human and cultural geography transcends disciplines and engages with the intersections of urban planning, architecture, radical politics and the avant-garde. He has written widely on politics and geography and his most recent book, Visions of the City, traces out the themes of utopianism in urban planning and closely explores the theories & practices of the Situationist International, or situationists: a radical avant-garde group headed by Guy Debord from the mid-1950s through the late 1960s. Pinder’s book grapples with the idea of utopia posited by architects, urban planners and political dissidents but it’s clear that his overarching goal is to redeem and revive the prospects of utopianism in the present day. Aside from being a first-rate thinker and writer, his perspective on the value of utopianism is a welcomed change of pace from the cynicism that often passes for progressive politics.


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