Lecture:“Spaces of Calculation: Street Addressing and the Making of a Geo-coded World.”
Reuben Rose-Redwood, Kluge Fellow
December 3, 2008, 12:00 Noon (Whittall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson
This event is free and open to the public; no reservations or tickets are required.
Street addressing is one of the most basic strategies employed by governmental
authorities to tax, police, manage, and monitor the spatial whereabouts of
individuals within a population. Despite the central importance of the street
address as a “political technology,” few scholars have examined the historical
and contemporary practice of street addressing with respect to its broader
social, political, and ontological implications. When, where, and why did
the technique of house numbering historically emerge as a mechanism of spatial
ordering? How did it come to be so taken-for-granted as part of everyday
life in post-industrial societies? In this presentation, Kluge Fellow Reuben
Rose-Redwood will explore the cultural and political history of street addressing
in the United States, from the late eighteenth century to the present, including
the recent shift from rural route and box numbering systems to 911 addresses.
More than a mere technical device best left to postmasters and planning professionals,
the spatial practice of street addressing is one of the fundamental mechanisms
of the production of calculable space and is, in a more general sense, the
socio-spatial equivalent to the mathematicization of nature that has dominated
modern thought since the Enlightenment.