• Obsessively Writing the Modern City: The Partial Madness of Urban Planning Culture and the Case of Arturo Soria y Mata in Madrid, Spain

      Fraser, Benjamin; Univ Arizona, Dept Spanish & Portuguese, Coll Humanities (Liverpool University Press (UK), 2019)
      The article blends disability studies and urban cultural studies in order to explore the geometrical obsessions of modern urban planners. It sets the stage by including the figure of the urban planner in the list of specialists (artists, scientists, writers) at the core of the argument made by Lennard J. Davis in Obsession: A History (2008). One planner in particular typifies the way in which obsessive thinking comes to be prized and somewhat normalized during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Arturo Soria y Mata’s plan for a Linear City follows the renowned examples of Baron Georges von Haussmann’s Paris and Ildefons Cerdà’s Barcelona. Soria y Mata’s plan for Madrid touts the triumph of conceptual space through bold geometrical vectors that effectively erase the variations of urban life in both symbolic and practical terms. An urban cultural studies framework, grounded in the urban thinking of Henri Lefebvre and others, extends the notion of culture beyond literary approaches and effectively urbanizes global disability studies. It also draws attention to modern urban planning’s paradoxical reliance on both ableist ideology and cognitive difference, framed by the concept of “partial madness.”