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Ash Amin: Lively Infrastructures

Lecture on the intersections of urban design and urban identity

Public lecture hosted by Theatrum Mundi

As part of the diverse program accompanying the ideas competition Designing the Urban Commons, Theatrum Mundi welcomed Professor Ash Amin for a Public Lecture at the LSE.

In this lecture on the intersections of urban design and urban identity, Ash Amin presented research from the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, where inhabitants of favelas deprived of formal infrastructure communally co-construct supplies of water, electricity and sanitation. As people work together and the fruits of their collective labour become visible, he argues that these infrastructures become deeply implicated in the making of community and social identity. In turn, as informal settlements become incorporated and these infrastructures rationalised and made invisible, individual lives and the experience of solidarity and struggle subtly shift in both positive and negative ways.

This compelling case study offers a vital perspective on the themes of Designing the Urban Commons, which asks how design could create new ways for the social act of commoning to take shape in London, enabling citizens to work together to generate and use urban resources.


  • Ash Amin

    Professor Ash Amin is 1931 Chair in Geography and Fellow of Christ's College at the University of Cambridge.

    Professor Amin is known for his thinking on the geographies of modern living, through his research on cities as relational performances, globalisation as everyday process, economy as cultural habit, and race and multiculture as the hybrid of biopolitics and vernacular practices. He has held Fellowships and Visiting Professorships at a number of European Universities. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded a CBE in 2014 for his contributions to social science.  Before joining Cambridge in 2011, he was the founding Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University.

  • Richard Sennett

    Richard Sennett

    Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. His research interests include the relationship between urban design and urban society, urban family patterns, the urban welfare system, the history of cities and the changing nature of work. His books include The Craftsman (2008), The Culture of the New Capitalism (Yale, 2006), Respect: The Formation of Character in an Age of Inequality (Penguin, 2003), The Corrosion of Character (1998), Flesh and Stone (1994) and The Fall of Public Man (1977). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Society of the Arts and the Academia Europea. He is past President of the American Council on Work and the former Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Recent honours and awards include The Schocken Prize, 2011; Honorary Doctorate from Cambridge University, 2010; The Spinoza Prize, 2010; The Tessenow Prize, 2009; The Gerda Henkel Prize, 2008; The European Craft Prize, 2008; and The Hegel Prize, 2006.