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TU Berlin

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Intangible Metropolitanism: Knowledge and Communication

Metropoles are places of knowledge. Universities, research institutions, museums, and even knowledge-based industries and the creative economy have preferred to settle in large cities since the nineteenth century. Additionally, secondary systems of expertise, such as environmental technology, infrastructure, and municipal utilities have sprouted out of urban centers. The new technical structures of the city were originally the accomplishment of the modern art of engineering, but increasingly generated new forms of expertise, such as specialized architects, lawyers, doctors, or economists. The rapid “scientification” of urban and infrastructural planning contributed greatly to the reconfiguration of metropoles. Sociological literature has long emphasized that the rise of the urban knowledge and information society has been a central aspect of globalization, but draws primarily only on developments since the 1970s. The graduate research program will systematically study this connection, taking into account the category of metropolitanism, with a wider historical foundation.

First we will review the thesis that knowledge-based institutions (universities, museums, research institutions) have indeed played a primary role in establishing metropoles’ intrinsic identities in the context of global competition. Secondly, we hope to examine the increasingly international integration of urban knowledge elites and experts and the resulting transfer of knowledge. Thirdly, we aim to analyze how metropoles themselves have become places of knowledge production. Knowledge of “the world,” we postulate, has been generated predominantly in metropoles and has greatly shaped their self-identity.

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