Accepted Paper:

Meeting to plan the future of cycling: from technical to epistemic and recurrent objects  


Pim Peters (Technische Universität München)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how planning coordinates multiple visions of the future city. Drawing on a multi-disciplinary planning meeting, I highlight the recursive nature of planning objects, paying attention to meetings as particular spaces where a re-description of planning objects unfolds.

Paper long abstract:

Urban road planning provides ample opportunity for studying how conflicting visions meet. Planning is precisely premised on its capacity to shape futures and synthesize multiple visions. This paper ethnographically studies how the vision for the first cycling highway in Munich was enacted and coordinated through a multi-disciplinary planning meeting.

Recent STS work on multi-disciplinary meetings has drawn attention to the roles of objects in the practices of architects and scientists (Ewenstein & Whyte, 2009; Nicolini, Mengis, & Swan, 2012). Specifically the notions of 'technical' and 'epistemic' objects - the taken for granted tools and what is not yet known - have been proposed as fruitful for understanding how partially existing objects are enacted and manipulated in multi-disciplinary meetings.

However, the technical or epistemic nature of objects is often precisely what is at stake in transport planning meetings. Planning meetings precisely gather different understandings of what may and may not be called into question. Such understandings are not fixed, but are conjured and collectively explored within the space of meetings. But how is this done? Drawing on Corsín Jiménez (2017), I suggest that recursion, understood as a self-referential process, provides a potentially fruitful way of figuring this out. In this perspective, planning meetings may be conceived as spaces in which conflicting urban realities may be re-described through drawing in parts of each other.

Panel D01
Politicizing futures. When conflicting visions meet