New Urbanism as Urban Political Development: Racial Geographies of ‘Intercurrence’ across Greater Seattle

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

New Urbanism as Urban Political Development: Racial Geographies of ‘Intercurrence’ across Greater Seattle

  • Yonn Dierwechter School of Urban Studies, University of Washington, USA

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Abstract:  While New Urbanism is now subject to a range of theorizations from different perspectives and disciplinary approaches, it is rarely framed as part of a society’s overall political development. This article explores New Urbanism through recently ‘cosmopolitanized’ and ‘urbanized’ theories of American Political Development (APD). For many years, APD scholars like Skowronek and Orren have emphasized the conceptual importance of ‘intercurrence,’ which refers to the simultaneous operation of multiple political orders in specific places and thus to the tensions and abrasions between these orders as explanations for change. Urban scholars have engaged with these ideas for some time, particularly in studies of urban politics and policy regimes, but APD’s influence on urban planning theory and practice remains underdeveloped. This article takes up this lacuna, applying select APD ideas, notably intercurrence, to understand how multi-scalar governments develop space though New Urbanist theories of place-making, with special attention paid to race. Examples from metropolitan Seattle are used to illustrate (if not fully elaborate) the article’s overall arguments and themes.

Keywords:  APD; intercurrence; New Urbanism; planning theory; race; Seattle; sustainability; urban political development

Published:   22 December 2020


© Yonn Dierwechter. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.