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New Normals and Narratives of Nothing: Affect and Planning


This project centers around a recognition that cities, fundamentally, are sites of identity. Embedded in place at all times, we are constantly in states of becoming, being formed by our surroundings and interactions and forming others in return. This becoming is one that is situated in affect. When urban planners intervene in space, we are fundamentally intervening in identity, and in processes of affective connection. With this in mind, this project uncovers how affect operates within processes of urban planning, specifically in the context of urban change and displacement. This project asks how this understanding can then be used to better imagine a planning processes founded in the affective dimension. Through an initial engagement with projects responding to processes of urban change, development, and displacement in Seattle, I find a dichotomy between planning practice, and projects from artists, activists, and residents pushing back against displacement. Artist, resident, and activist-led projects seem to be situated in the affective dimension, whereas planning practice is not. This dichotomy is significant, as it creates a climate where people and planners operate in opposition with one another. It creates a gap between the reality of lived experience of place, and decision making processes that, in many ways, govern these spaces. In engaging with narratives within projects pushing back against displacement, and with the urban planning process, I analyze why this gap exists. This project aims to lessen this gap, imagining a planning process that is fundamentally situated within the affective dimension.