Cities of Feet and Hands
When Michel de Certeau asserts that walking manipulates spatial organizations, he is clearly employing a metaphor of manual activity. In this chapter, I discuss de Certeau’s bustling, mobile city of feet, but in pursuing his notion of manipulation I also want to discuss what Ash Amin and Nigel Thrift have named the city of hands. These geographers propose that hands, which are involved in the deft, skillful manipulation of things like computer keyboards and car steering wheels, are crucial yet largely forgotten elements of everyday urban living. The main contention of my chapter is that, taken together, such cities of feet and hands, of moving, knowledgeable bodies in practical, sensuous, tactile dealings with environments and technologies, are important considerations for urban cultural analysis. This is because they are inextricably linked with matters of dwelling in the city or, in the terms of my subtitle, with urban habitations.