Yay! Today, my favorite academic journal has published a review of the book Lars Meier and I have edited one year ago. The review was written by Sara Westin. If your university has subscribed to Environment and Planning D, then you can download the review here: DOI 10.1068/d2605rvw. For those who are not in such a lucky position I will to post two snippets from the review – the first about the book as a whole, the second about the chapter written by yours truly:
The different texts can be read as freestanding articles, but what bind them together—except for the focus on the urban encounter and the use of the visual—are the explicit or implicit references to the works of Lefebvre. This is a clever editorial arrangement that results in something more than the sum of all parts. Last but not least, it is uplifting to take part in urban research that to such a high degree is produced outside the Anglo-Saxon context: only three of the ten contributors are working in universities in the United States (not a single one in the UK or in Canada). The non-Anglo-Saxon focus, which is not something that is made explicit by the editors, is to a certain extent reflected in the choice of examples as well as in the bibliographies […] Conclusively, although slightly overpriced, Encountering Urban Places is an interesting book that provides not only a rematerialization but also a diversification of the urban research tradition.
I find Encountering Urban Places incredibly inspiring since it offers a range of interesting ways to explore the multidimensionality of everyday encounters and how these encounters may play a part in the production of places. Here I especially want to mention Frers’s concept of ‘envelopment’—an analytic tool which can be used to understand the constant interaction between things and people that characterizes everyday urban encounters and toevoke a sense of what we experience and help understand why we do certain things(page 44). The concept refers to the process that unfolds when we are moving around in the city. As we enter different social – material – spatial constallations we are constantly enveloped by impressions—all of which configure our behaviour. However, Frers stresses, this is not a passive process—we are not just being enveloped by our surroundings, we are also enveloping ourselves. By drawing on Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Frers challenges the Cartesian mind – body dichotomy as well as the division between agency and perception: our intentions, our mood, our corporal condition all play crucial parts in the envelopment process since they filter our perception, which in turn guides our actions. Frers analysis focuses on the in-between space—the envelope—that extends into both actor and surrounding. The concept does not refer toan object in the real world(page 34), but rather to a constantly changing process which although subtle, is extremely powerful since it restrains and enables action.
We’re of course really, really glad about getting such a positive review! Hopefully it will attract some new readers for our book. :) In any case it provides a lot of motivation to see that people enjoy the fruits of the work that has been invested into this volume by all of its contributors.