This issue of Public Culture invites contributors and readers to consider space that is “other than ‘the city.’ ” This peculiar locution, “the city,” has content but also shape and disposition. It brackets evidence of urban phenomenon, but also reproduces some dominant habits of mind.

“The city” suggests a body of familiar thought cultivated by connoisseurs of urbanism but also surrounded by an aura of unknowability. It sometimes stands for an urbanist's knowledge about the ephemeral qualities of spatial arrangements—qualities to counter planning prescriptions that are nevertheless difficult to express in common parlance for a broad audience. That broader audience more readily expresses urban arrangements in terms of data within one of the anointed digital or econometric languages to which culture gives authority.

“The city”—like “the 68” or “the blockchain”—also laughably suggests the one and only, the exalted, or the all-encompassing category. And for those hoping to widen the field...

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