Spatiality of Multiculturalism

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Multiculturalism, as a set of ideas and policies, is one of the normativeapproaches to the current situation of cultural diversity in multicultural cities.But how can the ideas of multiculturalism be translated into the reality of urbanform? The overall aim of this dissertation is to provide a theoretical andconceptual frame of reference for distilling and identifying the ideas ofmulticulturalism which can be translated into spatial form, and in this way, tohighlight the role urban form may play in addressing the situation of living‘together-in-difference’. In this study, the relation between the materiality ofurban form and the political framework of multiculturalism is at the core of thediscussion.In its exploration into multiculturalism, the thesis identifies theoretical lacunae inexplaining the spatial dimensions of multiculturalism. To be able to discussmulticulturalism in urban form terms, the dissertation chooses the position of a‘civility of indifference’, developed by Amin (2012), as one of many possiblestances within this discourse as an operative conception for such an exercise.Adopting the logical argumentation as the research strategy, the thesis delvesdeep into the conceptual domain mapped by space syntax theory as a primarysystem in this endeavour, and accordingly, describes how the spatial form of thecity, by way of human movement, has the potential to create a variety of socialgroupings. Thereupon the thesis develops a secondary conceptual system withexplanatory applicability to the relation between multiculturalism and spatialform. Supported by these systems of argumentation, the study describes how thespatial morphology of the city may have influence on the situation of livingtogether. It is suggested that overlapping spaces represent the spaces whereurban structure potentially can provide the spatial viability for the emergence ofa ‘civility of indifference’ and its two organizing principles of co-presence andmultiplicity.Hence, the dissertation intends to contribute to theoretical efforts into theexperience of living ‘together-in-difference’ from architectural and urban designperspectives, and argues that multiculturalism distinctly possesses spatialdimensions, which should be conceptualized and addressed through thetheoretical lens of spatial form. Hence, the thesis defends that notwithstandingbeing a complex of social processes, the spatial dimensions of multiculturalismshould not be belittled in efforts to address the situation of living together in themulticultural cities of the West.