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The Fabric of Space


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This book appears in the thick of the water wave in urban studies and will be sure to remain a major reference. It places the solidities of water and the liquidities of modernity in a single comparative framework and shows how water eludes expert management as well as modernist norms of democracy and of rights to nature. -- Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University; author of The Future as Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition Gandy takes us on a wonderfully illuminating global and historical journey, exploring the multiple layers of the relationship between water and urban modernity. Following the flow of water in both material and cultural realms, he shows us that its imprint is observable in our social, political, and economic institutions, in our infrastructures and imaginations, and constitutes a vital element of the relationship between the human and the nonhuman. Drawing on a dazzling range of disciplinary knowledge while presenting it with admirable economy, the book is a scholarly tour de force. -- Gyan Prakash, author of Mumbai Fables Water, says Matthew Gandy, resides at the meeting ground of landscape and infrastructure, cross-cutting the visible and invisible domains of urban space. It is an indispensable element of the material culture of modernity while at the same time it is powerfully inscribed in the realm of imagination. The Fabric of Space is a magisterial set of reflections on the political and cultural economies of the cities of the Global North and South by tracing the flow of water through urban space. Gandy's brilliant theoretical observations and his keen eye for detail and nuance combine to produce a compelling and wholly original account of evolving relations between modernity, nature, and the urban imaginary. -- Michael Watts, Class of 1963 Professor of Geography and Development Studies, University of California, Berkeley

About the Author

Matthew Gandy is Professor of Geography at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Concrete and Clay: Reworking Nature in New York City (MIT Press), recipient of the 2003 Spiro Kostof Award from the Society of Architectural Historians, and The Fabric of Space: Water, Modernity, and the Urban Imagination (MIT Press), recipient of the 2014 Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography, given by the American Association of Geographers, and has published widely on urban, cultural, and environmental themes.


Matthew Gandy has written a new and potentially important examination of place and water, providing evidence and insight into the experiencing, making, and consuming of water in modernity. -Antipode
Urban planners, civil engineers, city designers, governmental and business officials would all benefit from reading this book. It gives an important, comprehensive summary about water needs and water management strategies and the affiliated environmental, social and governance issues related to water infrastructure. At a time when climate change and the influence of water is moving higher up the agenda for many cities and rural areas, this book is a valuable reference for understanding what happened in the past, why it worked or did not, and some possible pathways for managing water more effectively, efficiently and usefully into the future. Highly recommended reading. -3D Visualization World
In addition to valuable information about six distinct urban experiences, the book is an insightful read thanks to Gandy's outstanding talent in managing multiple sources of data to address the modernization process. This skill enables the author to bridge the gaps between different epistemological realms such as public discourse, scientific knowledge, and individual creativity. -Journal of Political Ecology
Modernity is not just a state of mind or a set of material transformations, but a formative concept. That water is introduced as an essential element in the urban transformation process physically, intellectually, socially, and culturally is at the heart of the book. Gandy could have extended his argument beyond cities, and maybe someone will. But the simultaneous clarity of his basic argument and the many complexities of the variety of stories he tells make The Fabric of Space most exceptional. That the book left me with so many questions not only about water is a tribute to its value. -Journal of Historical Geography

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