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Urbanization is a system of power and knowledge, and today’s city functions through the expansive material infrastructures of the urban order. In The Urban Apparatus, Reinhold Martin analyzes urbanization and the contemporary city in aesthetic, socioeconomic, and mediapolitical terms. He argues that understanding the city as infrastructure reveals urbanization to be a way of imparting functional, aesthetic, and cognitive order to a contradictory, doubly bound neoliberal regime.

Blending critical philosophy, political theory, and media theory, The Urban Apparatus explores how the aesthetics of cities and their political economies overlap. In a series of ten essays, with a detailed theoretical introduction, Martin explores questions related to urban life, drawn from a wide range of global topics—from the fiscal crisis in Detroit to speculative development in Mumbai to the landscape of Mars, from discussions of race and the environment to housing and economic inequality. Each essay proposes a particular “mediator” (or a material complex) that is shaped by imaginative practices, each answering the question “What is a city, today?” 

The Urban Apparatus serves as an “urban” bookend to the architectural questions explored by Martin in his earlier book Utopia’s Ghost, and ultimately offers readers a way to think politically about urbanization.