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Rhythms of the city : temporalised space and motion.

Crang, M. (2001) 'Rhythms of the city : temporalised space and motion.', in Timespace : geographies of temporality. London: Routledge, pp. 187-207. Critical geographies. (13).


This essay is concerned with the intersection of lived time, time as represented and urban space - especially around everyday practice. As such it follows in a long pedigree of works addressing time and space in the city. However, what I want to try and rethink some approaches to offer a less stable version of the everyday, and through this a sense of practice as an activity creating time-space not time space as some matrix within which activity occurs. The essay thus addresses the paradox that Stewart identifies where the ‘temporality of everyday life is marked by an irony which is its own creation, for this temporality is held to be ongoing and non-reversible and, at the same time characterized by repetition and predictability’ (1984, p14). I want to thus look both at stability but also the emergence of new possibilities through everyday temporality. To do this I want to proceed through four circuits, each picking up and expanding upon the previous, developing and transforming it. The first circuit serves to locate the everyday through the study of temporality. The study of the chronopolitics and regulation of daily life serves as an entree into why ‘the everyday’ matters. The multiple rhythms and temporalities of urban life this form the back-cloth for this essay; what Lefebvre evoked, but hardly explained, as a rhythmanalysis. The second circuit picks up on this but to adds the insights of time-geography in the paths and trajectories that individuals and groups make through the city. Introducing a sense of human action and motility into the experience of time offers a new step while the combination of time-space routines serves to link the everyday to the reproduction of social regularities (Pred 1982). However, the sense of time-space created through time geography is rather rarefied, so the third circuit seeks to develop a critique and step sidewise through a concern with the differences between lived and represented times - a focus on experiential time-space that will lead to considering phenomenological accounts. Time and space cease to be simply containers of action. These it will be suggested begin to offer a sense of space-time as Becoming, a sense of temporality as action, as performance and practice; indeed the difference as well as repetition. The possibility as Grosz (1999) argues for not merely the novel, but the unforeseen. However, the fourth circuit suggests that these still share an idea of the self-presence of everyday experience, and will open up ideas of events as problematising the everyday. This attempts to both keep a sense of fecundity in the everyday without it becoming a recourse to ground thinking in an ‘ultimate non-negotiable reality’ (Felski 2000:15). The essay then argues for a sense of greater instability - or perhaps better, fragility - within the everyday. This essay thus focuses on the flow of experience for the social subject. It is also important to think through the topology and texture of temporality in the urban fabric, the city as well as its people, but that is a task for a different occasion (see Crang & Travlou, 2001).

Item Type:Book chapter
Keywords:Time, Motion, Urban.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Timespace: Geographies of Temporality on 08/03/2001, available online:
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:15 August 2016
Date of first online publication:March 2001
Date first made open access:No date available

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