This paper explores and discusses the potential of agonistic dissensus as an emancipatory agent of design in a global age where cities have become highly contested sites, constantly refashioned by neoliberal hegemonic forces. Dissensus has the potential to refashion the city as a truly agonistic space, one that can re-politicise what neoliberal governance arrangements have profoundly de-politicised, what this paper calls ‘agonistic urbanisms’. Furthermore, this paper explores how ‘agonistic urbanisms’ materialize engaging with Secor’s analysis of Agamben’s and Lacan’s topology of space. Agamben’s topological analysis has the potentiality to unlock new modes of politics (Mouffe, 2005) by revealing mechanisms of inclusion/exclusion, while Lacan’s topology urges us to consider the desires and affects behind the subject and its lived space.
The second part of the paper will focus on the case of ‘El Cabanyal’ in Valencia and the afthermath of almost two decades of resistance against a tubula-rassa urban renewal. With the new government brought by the local elections of 2015, ‘El Cabanyal’ has now a unique opportunity to take ownership of the decision process of their urban future. The aim of the paper is to unpack the transformative potential of agonistic dissensus in creating a new urban plan for ‘El Cabanyal’, one that is open and inclusive, geared towards the creation and inclusion of new political subjects, those otherwise left outside the current mainstream production of space and knowledge within the city. Analysing the case of ‘El Cabanyal’ through these topological lens, this paper shows how this approach is key to reveals issues of power and exclusion, while explaining explain how collective and individual affects arise and move different neighbours of ‘El Cabanyal’ into political actions that spatialise as an alternative urban future that can transform the neighbourhood.