Measuring the non-measurable: On mapping subjectivities in urban research

Darko Radović

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This essay offers for discussion two contentious issues: the need for non-reductive approaches to investigations of the urban and the need for explicit inclusion of subjectivities and sensuality in urban research. It presents fragments of a major international research project into urban intensity, Measuring the non-Measurable (Mn'M), which was conducted at Keio University, Tokyo. It is polemological as, in de Certeau's tradition, it hopes to help "force theory to recognise its own limits." The main emphasis of issues of subjectivity and sensuality are found in: (1) our efforts to define urban intensity/quality, (2) various techniques to find and identify such qualities, and (3) ways of capturing, (re)presenting and sharing those subtle urban energies which escape easy, if any, definition. Capturing and representing the urban is viewed here as the task of mapping - of a non-traditional kind. A discussion about mapping subjectivities and sensualities constitutes the main body of the paper. The first part outlines key aspects of the theoretical background, then presents concrete examples constituting fragments from a number of dérive sessions conducted in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. The pattern of the second part of the essay changes in order to present prospects for further research and different practices opened up by those dérive sessions, or drifts. The style in the second part of this article abandons standard journal formatting in order to enable concepts to flow and cascade, drift and stutter. A text about mapping takes the form of a map. Such writing-as-mapping aims to stimulate readings other than those intended by the author. It asks questions and hints at the answers. What is a map? Why map? How to map? How to map what is difficult to even define? Or, indirectly, might maps capture qualities such as the earthiness of terra, or the sensuality of the human?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalCity, Culture and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1


  • Alternative practices
  • Dérive
  • Mapping
  • Sensuality
  • Subjectivity
  • Urban research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Urban Studies
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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