To the City of Murky Dreams




Posthumanism, Urban Imaginaries, ecocriticism


This letter is addressed to the quintessential city, an urban imaginary that encompasses the hopes of planners, writers, and those entangled nature-cultures who populate them. From Ebenezer Howard’s Garden Cities of Tomorrow that set off the garden cities movement, to fiction such as Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and Antoni Jach’s Layers of the City that explore the socio-historical construction of urban imaginaries and more recently Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book set in a climate changed future, cities can be seen as places of abundant resources or destructive development. A swell of these voices build throughout the letter as the many idealistic versions of the city entangle and prevent any one vision from solidifying. This letter will explore these contested imaginaries, particularly the way these imaginaries impact those who are welcomed, fed and allowed to prosper and those who are chased out, excluded, and destroyed. But this letter is also about particular cities: Jach’s Paris, Calvino’s Venice and Wright’s Southern Australian City but also the Kombumerri country (Gold Coast), the city I live in and onto which I inevitably read these imaginaries. How might cities such as those built on Kombumerri country and Naarm be reimagined through critical posthumanism? Drawing on the work of Karen Barad, Astrida Neimanis, Donna Haraway and Val Plumwood, this letter meanders through the murky waters, entangled buildings and constructed garden spaces of literary urban imaginaries as I unsettle the quintessential city.

Author Biography

Chantelle Bayes, Griffith University

Chantelle Bayes is a writer, lecturer in academic writing, and researcher in the environmental humanities. Her work has been published in TEXT, M/C Journal, Meniscus and Axon.