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The View from Above: The Science of Social Space Hardcover – 19 Apr 2013


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The View from Above: The Science of Social Space + Seeing from Above: The Aerial View in Visual Culture + Close Up at a Distance: Mapping, Technology, and Politics
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (19 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262018799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262018791
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 713,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Haffner elegantly elaborates on how the interpretation of the aerial view shifted from encapsulating "the humanistic, Enlightenment-inspired promise of global unity through technology" to symbolizing for Lefebvre and the French New Left colonialism "the 'spectacle' of capitalist consumerism, and the repressiveness of state-controlled urban planning" (109). She argues in her nuanced, rich, and elegantly written history that the distinction so often made between "'top-down' urban planning and its 'bottom-up' critique" simplifies a more complex story -- a story that can best be unraveled by an interdisciplinary approach. By offering such an interdisciplinary history, this book complements not only the literature on visual culture, the history of science, and French architectural, urban, and planning history, but also the work on individual thinkers such as Henri Lefebvre, and it will therefore prove valuable reading for scholars in all these fields. Journal of Modern History

About the Author

Jeanne Haffner is a Lecturer on the History of Science at Harvard University. Peter Galison is Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University. He is the author of Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps: Empires of Time, How Experiments End, and Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics, among other books, and coeditor (with Emily Thompson) of The Architecture of Science (MIT Press, 1999).

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A basically solid account of the development of a particular way of conceiving of French colonial, and ultimately, domestic space. Rooted in critical geopolitics and benefitting from archival work, there is some really interesting material here but the structure is a bit disjointed at times and I felt some of the early chapters went over the same ground without developing new arguments. Probably of limited interest to all but a handful, but can certainly be read alongside Scott's Seeing Like a State.
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