Skip to content

Response to Review no. 765

We are glad that Mr. Caprotti found our book to be ‘written clearly and engagingly’, and ‘does not get stuck in theory’, both of which were part of our intention. While we understand his wish that the case studies were ‘developed more fully’ we believe we covered the essentials and do not wish the reader to be buried in detail, no matter how much we ourselves love the texture of history. We take exception however to his notion that we should have addressed ‘the wide body of literature which (in political ecology and beyond) attempts to theorise … these intersections of society, technology and nature in the city’. It was not our intention to let our inquiries be shaped by such theories. History guided by the theories of other disciplines often fails its own canons of method.

Mr. Caprotti’s claim that our book ‘at times … replicates rather than critically engages with fascist propaganda discourse’ misreads both our intention and our text. We clearly state that the fascist context of the techno-city would soon fall on its own contradictions. Curiously, he writes that in chapter six, we delineate ‘perhaps unwittingly, a cautionary tale in the top-down planning of new urban settlements by professionals far removed from the local context’. Let us assure him that we are very ‘witting’ about this issue and in fact the entire point of the chapter rests upon it. We quote anthropologist Lisa Peattie precisely to that purpose and Caprotti even uses our very quotations. Our purpose, which we hope Mr. Caprotti would grant, was not to validate the techno-city but to illuminate its disparate, often contradictory justifications over the course of the past century.

Finally, while we continue to believe that the ‘techno-city experiment’ had exhausted itself by the end of the 20th century, we have indeed already taken up the study of eco-cities, a phenomenon which we believe to be distinct from techno-cities as we have defined them and has its own fascinating dynamic.