Book Review of Seeing Like a State by James C. Scott

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Book Review Topic : James C. Scott, Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed Submitted by : Mehmet Süreyya Kiraz
Submitted to : Dr. Bilge Azgın
Submit date : 20th May 2014

Nicosia, 2014

1. Introduction and Main Significance of James C. Scott’s Book 2. High Modernism : Its Roots, Meaning and Its Headliners
2.1. Le Corbusier and Lenin’s View about High Modernism 2.2. A Failure in High Modernist Urbanism : The Case of Brasilia 3. Critiques Against High Modernist Ideology : Jane Jacobs and Rosa Luxembourg 4. Critical Appraisal and Missing Points of Second Part of the book 5. Conclusion

Seeing Like A State : How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed by James C. Scott Book Review by : Mehmet Süreyya Kiraz
1.Introduction and Main Significance of C. Scott’s Book
In our book review, we will analyse James C. Scott’s seminal work from 1998 , Seeing Like a State : How Certain Schemes to Improve Human Condition Have Failed . C. Scott’s work aimed to give a critique on political methods which seeks to make ‘’ legible ’’ societies . In this book, the author tries to put a strong critique on the vision of high modernism and the architectural application of this ideology . Main aim of this book is to show us how modern state imposed order upon many aspects of society which needed to understand and administer. Here, the order is imposed through simplified complex phenomenas like land ownership and processes such as making regular maps1. This process is called by James C. Scott as ‘‘ Legibility ’’. For him, Legibility stands as a central problem for statecraft . Regarding the Legibility problem of statecraft, author gave an example of development German Forestry and the results of the failure of Scientific Forestry in Germany. However, the practices of Scientific forestry have failed. Similar to German Scientific forestry case, in our book review we detected such failures on architectural aspects like Case of Brasilia in Brazil and Case of Chandigarh in India. In the following part of this book review, we will discuss the second part of this book which covers the three subjects as High Modernist urban city planning , headliners of this ideology , the case study that explains the failure of this ideology which is the Case of Brazilia . At the near end of our book review, we will try to put the critiques against high modernist ideology. This critiques mainly done by Jane Jacobs and Rosa Luxembourg. Then, we will give our critique of the book when finishing our book review.

2.High Modernism : Its Roots, Meaning and Its Main Headliners In the second section of our book review, we will try to give the definition of High Modernism, the Headliners that supported this ideology and their vision about High Modernism . Before mentioning about High Modernism, James C. Scott, stated that the most tragic episodes of state – initiated social engineering originates in the combination of four elements. These are ; 1. First Element is ‘‘ Administrative ordering of nature and society ’’. This element refers as a remarkable tools for statecraft which are important in maintaining welfare and freedom. 2. Second element is ; ‘‘ authoritarian state that is willing and able to use the full weight of its coercive power in order to realize high – modernist plans. 3. Third element is closely related with the third element. This element is a ‘‘ prostrate civil society that lacks the capacity to resist high modernist schemes ’’. 4. Fourth element is what C. Scott named as ‘‘ High – Modernist Ideology ’’2. High modernist ideology refers to a ‘‘ confidence about scientific and technical progress ’’ that leads to conclusion that science grasps all knowledge . Therefore, it maximizes productivity3. After giving the elements of tragic episodes of state’s social engineering schemes, C. Scott started to...
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