International Workshop

Planning in the Era of Decolonisation
Stephen Cairns (Architecture University of Edinburgh)
Jane M. Jacobs (Geography, University of Edinburgh)
This paper seeks to look awry at this specified topic, and does so in order to bring into view the geographies of knowledge production that underscore the notion of 'the plan' as well as the developmentalist residuals contained within the phrase 'era of decolonisation'. Without doubt the intellectual work of Doxiadis and post WWII processes of decolonisation are entangled. This paper seeks to explore that entanglement, and specifically its contradictory logics. We argue that the work of Doxiadis, which was very attentive to the conditions and circumstance of non-western cities, had a sensibility that worked to decentre existing urban knowledge fields. In the pages of Ekistics, for example, an unprecedented forum was offered to urbanists, bureaucrats, planners and academics to report on the non-western cities they designed, planned and managed. Through Ekistics the voices contributing to urban thinking was diversified, as never before. This said, the notion of 'the plan' that was embedded there was often as not a familiar one, derived through professionalized western knowledge fields of planning and architecture. As such, the diverse urban visions showcased in Ekistics, often served to prove just how extensive was the spread of western models of planning. Similarly, Doxiadis's attention to other places and times was in the service of producing a vision of urbanism which was, quite literally, global in scope and universal in ambition. Our paper pursues this contradictory frame through a close examination of a small number of key texts produced by Doxiadis. We do so by looking at two specific aspects of his work: its representational language, and its scalar features.