Epilogue: The Machinery of Urban Resilience

Ash Amin
2014 Social Sciences  
Cities are increasingly being recognized as sites of resilience, or as centres of life that will have to become more resilient in a world of intensifying hazard and risk. The literature on urban resilience tends to emphasize either the qualities of human cooperation and solidarity or those of the city's intelligence capabilities-human or technological. This paper focuses, instead, on the city's supply networks, arguing that the "machinic" qualities of mass provisioning and the flexibilities
more » ... city of the city's infrastructures may be key to the capacity of a city to mitigate against, or bounce back from, adversity. Cities are intrinsically unstable entities: they suffer downturns, face unexpected events, and take some time to recover from crises (if that). They are large, open and dispersed. They gather life but also distribute it. They are full of variety, latency and multiplicity. They are territories but also nodes in multiple networks. They are constantly evolving, often in unpredictable ways and in new directions. Much of this change brings turbulence, uncertainty and insecurity. Yet, in the normal course of events, this instability does not cause cities to fall apart or descend into uncontrolled decline, and when things do go off course, recovery and readjustment swiftly follow. In the course of time, cities have endured all manner of difficulty, hedging against risk and bouncing back from adversity, small and large [1] . If cities are unstable, they are also in some ways resilient: while some cities have declined after suffering adversity, many others have managed to recover or stave off the worst, albeit by paying a price. Maintaining this balance on the side of resilience rather than vulnerability is a key challenge of the 21st century for cities, not only because cities will house more and more of the world population, but also because the century is understood by experts and policymakers to be a time in which the perils of "risk society" as theorized by Ulrich Beck and others in the 1980s are likely to intensify. Anxieties are expressed about cities facing the extremes of climate change, the attacks of terrorists, militaries and OPEN ACCESS
doi:10.3390/socsci3030308 fatcat:dotdvetvgnhy3pj4xzighvahmu