A fascination with everyday life in cities runs through much of my research and teaching. I am especially interested in understanding cities from the ground up. A metaphor I use way too much is Michel de Certeau's account of the views of Manhattan from the top and bottom of the former World Trade Center tower in his wonderful essay Walking in the City. The view from above is seductive. It offers an ordered and totalising vista of the city; a detached and objective way of knowing the city. But travel down 110 storeys and your become immersed in the city; the city envelops you. In the view from below the city is complex, labyrinthine and only partially knowable. And it is this view from below that fascinates me. I am interested in how understanding specific urban places and specific experiences of the city provides insights into broader processes like racialisation and racism, neoliberalism, and post-industrialisation.
Much of my interest in the everyday city has been shaped by writing on the city that have sought to recover the significance of everyday life and urban experience. This writing has a long and unruly genealogy that includes surrealist writings on the city associated with writers like Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, and Walter Benjamin through to the work of the Situationist International in Paris of the late 1950s and 1960, or more contemporary psychogeographers like author Iain Sinclair and filmmaker and essayist Patrick Keiller.