The website of Birkhäuser includes some early information about Urbanism and Dictatorship. A European Challenge, a forthcoming book in which I have participated. This is the volume n. 153 of the long-lasting and celebrated series Bauwelt Fundamente, which has recently embraced English language for some of its catalog. Urbanism and Dictatorhip is a monograph on the history of totalitarian urbanism edited by Max Welch Guerra, Harald Bodenschatz and Piero Sassi, including contributions and case studies by colleagues from Germany, Italy, Russia, Portugal and Spain. The book is a great opportunity to delve into an interesting and alternative genealogy of the connection of urban space and power in the twentieth century, offering illustrations of the common practices, intricacies and singularities of dictatorial urbanisms. The monograph is mainly composed of case studies focusing on particular policies or projects from the aforementioned countries, but it also includes theoretical pieces by Bodenschatz, Welch Guerra and myself.
My contribution —a general outlook from the perspective of urban studies— focuses on some common features of totalitarian urbanisms: the emphasis on calculation and the expanded, territorial extent of spatial strategies; the preeminence of disciplinary governmentalities and social engineering; and the attempt to ‘totalize’ social life by plastic means and built forms. The piece establishes links between dictatorial spatial rationalities and those from other historical contexts, suggesting that totalitarian urbanisms worked as the excess of a particular orientation of modern spatial governmentalities. It was an interesting opportunity to address some of the experiences I knew in Germany, Italy, Spain and the USSR using the lens of conceptual elaborations by authors such as Foucault, Stuart Elden or Jacques Rancière.