Accepted paper:

Optimism as revenge and disgust in urban revitalisation


Maree Pardy (Deakin University)

Paper short abstract:

Large infrastructure and urban programs can be made intelligible through state and market desire, and the ensuing circulation of emotion across sites and scales of such development. The paper focuses on how emotion circulates through discourse, programs and responses in an Australian suburb.

Paper long abstract:

This paper suggests that large infrastructure and urban renewal programs are intelligible in affective dispositions of the state and market and the ensuing circulation of emotion across scales and sites of such development. The focus is on the circulation of emotion through 'urban-renewal discourse, programs and responses in a suburb in Australia. Urban renewal and road infrastructure are considered here through state sponsored, but market-led remediation. The tenor of their planning and implementation orchestrate and reflect an ambience or what Raymond Williams called a 'structure of feeling' (Williams, 1977). As advanced capitalism fluctuates in the face of large scale de-industrialisation, social economies increasingly turn to roads and real estate (re)development to drive growth. In this precarious context, urban renewal is optimistically cast as a strategy for happy futures. This optimism is however paradoxically entwined with a host of gloomier emotions, in particular the entanglement of revenge, disgust and optimism in the renewal of one Melbourne suburb. It is argued that the optimistic attachment to urban redevelopment by local and state government, and by those who are charged with its design and implementation, is an optimism that depends on revenge and disgust to sustain it. The study explores tensions between policy responses to the needs and aspirations of existing inhabitants; and the imperative to imagine urban futures based on new money, increased commercial investment, new inhabitants. Considering political emotions, public feelings, the entanglement here of revenge, disgust and optimism, the paper also raises questions about deploying emotion and affect methodologically.

panel Sui03
Clashing scales of infrastructural development