Anti-urbanism

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Anti-urbanism is hostility toward the city as opposed to the country, a simple rejection of the city, or a wish to destroy the city.[1][2] This hostility is not an individual sentiment, but a collective trope, sometimes evoked by the expression "urbophobia"[3] or "urbanophobia"[4] This trope can become politicized and thus influence spatial planning. Antiurbanism, while, of course, appearing within different cultures for different political purposes, is a global concept[5]

Despite massive urbanization and concentration of nearly half the world's population in urban areas,[6] the anti-urban vision remains relevant. The city is perceived as a site of frustration[7] but antiurbanism manifests more as resentment towards the global city rather than towards urbanity in general.[8]

In the 17th and 18th centuries,[9] anti-urbanism appeared amidst the industrial revolution, the exodus of thousands of peasants, and their pauperization. Up until this time the city had been perceived as a source of wealth, employment, services, and culture; but progressively came to be considered nefarious, the source of evils such as criminality, misery, and immorality.[10] England, the first country to industrialize, saw the birth of the first anti-urban newspaper, based on sentiment arising from deplorably unsanitary conditions.[1] The city was described as black and disease-ridden, teeming with miserable exploited workers.[10] The 1873–1896 Long Depression also accounts for the mounting critiques of the city. The rising fear of cities can thus be understood as rejection of a traumatizing reality.[11]

From the second half of the twentieth century critiques of the city are social and environmental, dealing with anonymity, pollution, noise pollution.[1] In fact, positive and negative visions of the city may coexist; agrarianism may critique the bad conditions while acknowledging the role of progress and innovation. With an anti-urban ideology, negative ideas about the city are contrasted with positive values of the country such as traditions, community, and stability,[2] which appear in the European context in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries along with the Romantic movement advocating a return to nature.[12] One finds acute manifestations of antiurbanism at moments of economic, political, and social crisis such as the French Revolution, the crisis of agriculture in Switzerland at the end of the 19th century, and during the rise of totalitarianism.[1][2]

Political and cultural influence[edit]

Anti-urban identities[edit]

Anti-urbanism has often served for the construction of national identities.

Swiss example[edit]

Chandolin
Le Village Suisse (Paris) in 1900

Switzerland has not escaped the process of urbanization. This small, mountainous country constructs her identity and representations thereof on the mountain countryside and rural villages, entirely in opposition to the city, which is considered bad for people. The village suisse, created for the 1900 Universal Exposition at Paris, an incontrovertible element in the discourse of anti-urbanism and a source of the Swiss mythology, opposed the virtuous rural Switzerland with the Switzerland corrupted by big cities.[13][14] The village is presented as a source of national unity and a refuge against the menace of war.[1]

American example[edit]

Los Angeles

The Democratic-Republican Party of the United States, independent in 1776 constructed their identity on rural, environmental values, with nature seen as beneficial for humanity.[15] Their Federalist opponents, in contrast, promoted urban commerce. The Democratic Party (United States) used such agrarian sentiments to dominate the country's politics in the first half of the 19th century, though they did not prevent the coming of the industrial revolution. They saw Europe and its industrial cities negatively. Jobs in the city attract migrants, creating poor workers and forming potential hotbeds of revolution.

To avoid these ills and urban overcrowding, the Americans embraced the idea of life on the outskirts, within nature, for a better way of life, yet near the city in order to reach its economic resources. Paradoxically, the rural component of American identity then gave rise to the urban sprawl around American cities which we see today.[16][17]

"Gated communities" are often discussed among the symptoms of urban pathology. They have become progressively more numerous elsewhere in the world, too. This global spread is currently interpreted as a simple diffusion of the American model of urbanism, carrying an anti-urban discourse, certainly adapted politically, contractually, and architecturally, to the needs of local tradition.[18]

Anti-urban politics[edit]

The antiurban ideologies of countries directly influence national planning, with clear consequences for society.

French example[edit]

French anti-urbanism has been strongly influenced by the work Paris and the French Desert by Jean-François Gravier, first published in 1947. This book, profoundly urbophobic, has since guided the politics of spatial planning in France. It recommends harsh methods to decentralize the French state, to reduce the influence of Paris its macrocephalous capital, and to redistribute work and people throughout the territory.[19]

Progressively, the French anti-urban vision has changed its goal, turning from the inner city to the suburbs, the banlieues,[20] seen as violent areas, "outside the Republic" always in opposition to the country, the rural France, the true France".[21] Paris and the French Desert seems to be favored reading material for the country's leaders.[22] In France, the politics of the city rest on a catastrophic and miserable vision of the banliues, and on an enchantment with the city center. For a long time, French society has remained pregnant with a sentiment of hostility to the city. The country and the rural civilization are perceived as holding and conserving "authentic" values—notably, with regard to tradition, family, respect for authority, connection with land, and sense of responsibility.[23]

Dictatorship[edit]

Hostility concerning the city and the defense of the rural formed part of official propaganda of the fascist regimes of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Vichy France, in the years 1930–1945,[1] but equally decades later in the Khmer Rouge regime. The politicization of anti-urbanism in its most severe form, can bring about, beyond ignorance of the city, a destruction of all things urban.

In the Nazi regime, the city was seen as a traitor to the nation and a cause of the downfall of man, and of the Aryan race in particular. Following the war, the ruins were to be razed, and the country reconstructed in a manner favorable to the countryside.[24] The Vichy regime expected that after the war France would abandon industry and become an agricultural country again. Pétain's idea was to "re-root" the French people in French soil.[1]

For the Khmer Rouge, the city was a western construction and a menace to the traditional values of Cambodian society. The Khmer peasants, the sole keepers of true Cambodian values, were to struggle against the city and for de-urbanization. This anti-urbanist program would compel the city-dwellers to return to a culture of the earth, working alongside peasants for the greatness of the Cambodian nation.[25]

Anti-urbanism in culture[edit]

In literature[edit]

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens abounds with apocalyptic descriptions of the Victorian city. Dickens describes a city where men have lost their humanity. The poor Oliver Twist must survive in a hostile urban world rife with banditry, violence, prostitution, and delinquency.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Salomon Cavin (2005)
  2. ^ a b c Salomon Cavin & Marchand (2010).
  3. ^ Salomon Cavin & Marchand (2010), p. 15.
  4. ^ Philippe Genestier, « L'urbanophilie actuelle, ou comment le constructionnisme politique cherche à se réaffirmer en s'indexant à la ville », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 6. Some authors employ the terms indiscriminately. Joëlle Salomon Cavin distinguishes: urbophobia is hostility to the city while urbanophobia is hostility to that which is urban.
  5. ^ Salomon Cavin (2010, p. 18).
  6. ^ Population urbaine mondiale en 2008 et 2010 Archived 2016-06-08 at the Wayback Machine - Statistiques mondiales.
  7. ^ Alain Sallez, Urbaphobie et désir d’urbain, au péril de la ville, Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 11.
  8. ^ Salomon Cavin & Marchand (2010) p. 325.
  9. ^ Bernard Marchand, « L’urbaphobie en France depuis 200 ans : très bref résumé », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 1.
  10. ^ a b François Walter, 1994, La Suisse urbaine 1750-1950, Zoé, Carouge-Genève.
  11. ^ Joëlle Salomon Cavin, Les cités-jardins de Ebenezer Howard : une œuvre contre la ville ?, Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 3.
  12. ^ La « Nature » est ici définie comme « tout ce qui n’a pas besoin de l’activité humaine pour exister » (Augustin Berque, 1997, Entre sauvage et artifice. La nature dans la ville, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, p. 2). Bernard Marchand, « L’urbaphobie en France depuis 200 ans : très bref résumé », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 2.
  13. ^ Joëlle Salomon Cavin, « La ville mal-aimée : esquisse du profil helvétique », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, pp. 1–4.
  14. ^ Salomon Cavin & Marchand (2010), p. 178.
  15. ^ Cynthia Ghorra-Gobin, in Salomon Cavin & Marchand (eds.), (2010), p. 85.
  16. ^ Cynthia Ghorra-Gobin, in Salomon Cavin & Marchand (eds.), (2010), pp. 83–85
  17. ^ Catherine Maumi, 2008, Usonia ou le mythe de la ville-nature américaine, éd. de la Villette, Paris.
  18. ^ Renaud Le Goix, « Les mots de l'Urbaphobie dans les métropoles des États-Unis : l'exemple des Gated communities », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, pp. 1–2.
  19. ^ Bernard Marchand, « L’urbaphobie en France depuis 200 ans : très bref résumé », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 5–6; and Marchand in Salomon Cavin & Marchand (2010), pp. 208–209.
  20. ^ Bernard Marchand, « L’urbaphobie en France depuis 200 ans : très bref résumé », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 7.
  21. ^ Bernard Marchand Salomon Cavin & Bernard Marchand, eds., (2010), pp. 209–210.
  22. ^ Laurent Davezies, « Croissance sans développement en Île-de-France », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 4.
  23. ^ Philippe Genestier, « L'urbanophilie actuelle, ou comment le constructionnisme politique cherche à se réaffirmer en s'indexant à la ville », Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, pp. 1, 6.
  24. ^ Marc Cluet in Joëlle Salomon Cavin et Bernard Marchand (eds.), 2010, Antiurbain Origines et conséquences de l’urbaphobie, Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes, Lausanne.
  25. ^ Adeline Carrier in Joëlle Salomon Cavin et Bernard Marchand, eds. (2010).
  26. ^ Joëlle Salomon Cavin, Les cités-jardins de Ebenezer Howard : une œuvre contre la ville ?, Communication au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle, p. 2.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Communications au colloque Ville mal aimée, ville à aimer, 5-12 juin 2007, Cerisy-la-Salle. Accessed 6 May 2012.
  • Catherine Maumi, 2008, Usonia ou le mythe de la ville-nature américaine, éditions de la Villette, Paris.
  • Joëlle Salomon Cavin, 2005, La ville, mal-aimée : représentations anti-urbaines et aménagement du territoire en Suisse : analyse, comparaisons, évolution, Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes, Lausanne.
  • Joëlle Salomon Cavin et Bernard Marchand (dir.), 2010, Antiurbain Origines et conséquences de l’urbaphobie, Presses polytechniques et universitaires romandes, Lausanne.
  • François Walter, 1994, La Suisse urbaine 1750-1950, Zoé, Carouge-Genève.
  • Down With The Cities, 1996, by Tadashi Nakashima