Distressed Cities Conference [April 2012-Virginia Tech]: Volume Underway

[Reblogged from the Distressed Cities blog]

Communities of varied sizes across the United States are struggling with the loss of industry, growing unemployment, foreclosures and abandoned properties, fiscal crisis, and the resulting strains across the social fabric. Scholars and practitioners label large communities facing the most obvious and significant challenges as “distressed cities,” and tremendous energy, scholarship, and effort has gone into understanding the causes and dimensions of distress, and to identify possible ways to generate or restore community health and vibrancy.

SPIA’s Conference 2012
Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) took a deep, interdisciplinary look at the empirical and conceptual issues surrounding distressed cities in the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference on April 12 and 13th 2012. Our method was free flowing multidisciplinary discussions focused on key concepts and resources related to distress, and the result was a critical yet generative examination of distress as condition and as concept. The role of art, public participation, planning, passion, policy, leadership, emergency response, and more were rubbed against each other during our conference, and both the sparks and the smoke of this action helped us draw a bigger picture, raising epistemological, political and practical questions.

We will now work together to develop a volume presenting and further developing the theoretical and practical ideas of the conference to contribute to and advance knowledge and action for this crucial public challenge. We’ll keep you posted on this site.



In fact, it’s been around since 3,500 BC when Mesopotamian farmers began setting aside plots in their growing cities. In a review of urban agriculture throughout modern history at a symposium at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., a diverse set of academics and designers ranging from historians to landscape architects discussed how the practice has evolved over the ages, often been highly ideological, and continues to be loaded with meaning. Organized by professor Dorothee Imbert, ASLA, chair of the master’s of landscape architecture program at Washington University in St. Louis, the conference looked at why urban agriculture is such a hot topic among the public and designers now but also hoped to put the current interest in a broader context. As Imbert said, “the inter-relationship between food and the city has a long history.”

Here are snippets of presentations that covered aspects of urban agricultural history in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the U.S.:

David Haney, Kent University School of Architecture, said London in the…

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sustainability and spanish

What is funny, sad, unique, horrible, weird, beautiful, outrageous, boring or inspiring about where you live?

How do places shape our sense of self and community? How does where we live impact us and how do we impact where we live?

A Spanish teacher where I work found this fascinating contest from Quito, Ecuador.  Entrants each wrote a story of no more than 100 words anchored in some way to the city of Quito.  Students can explore the stories, delving into the diversity of writers, themes and tone, and compare them with each other and their own experiences.  They can vote for their favorites or use the stories as a model for personal place-based reflections.  The class could even collect their reflections or stories about a particular place and share or exchange them with others.

In addition to the stories, Microquito is filled with photographs and artwork.  A few categories in…

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Great post. Lefebvre’s late text Rhythmanalysis is a great resource for such questions as well, and Kirsten Simonsen’s 2005 essay “Bodies Sensations, Space and Time: The Contribution from Henri Lefebvre” is another. It is interesting to see how far Lefebvre’s thoguhts on the body have migrated to other disciplines, for example I just read this essay by Michael Todd Friedman and Cathy van Ingen titled “Bodies in Space: Spatializing Physical Cultural Studies” published in 2011 in the Sociology of Sport Journal 28: 85-105.

Thinking culture


I’ve just returned to Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space, but this time I tried to look at its depiction of the body in social space. Focusing on this one aspect I was surprised to find just how central the body is in Lefebvre’s analysis. In fact quite early on Lefebvre is very clear that the body is central to his conception of the production of space.


What comes across in this reading of Lefebvre’s book is an affective account of space. The sensory body is central to spatial production. Although Lefebvre us clear that this sensory production of space can be usurped by powerful conceptions and representations of space. This leads him to talk of the ‘spatial body’ as a sits in which practices and representations of space implicate one another and shape bodily experience. This is quite a complex and recursive vision of the body and of its…

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CFP – Everyday Urban Life in the Socialist Era in Central/Eastern Europe

Èeský lid : Ethnological Journal – Call for Articles

Special issue: Everyday urban life in the socialist era in Central and Eastern Europe

Research on everyday life has had a strong position in social and historical sciences since the 1960s. Studies of urban environment focus mainly on the everyday routines, the practices and actions of individuals and groups, and their role in the reproduction of the meanings of urban space. It allows us to explore meanings attached to the multidimensional urban environment at different levels of interpretation: private or personal points of view of individuals and groups may differ from public or official interpretations. The aim of the planned issue of the Èeský lid is to explore the everyday life of inhabitants of cities and towns within the context of the former socialist system, which influenced the everyday practices of people in a specific way. Its political, economic and socio-cultural conditions created distinct structural pressure on the organization of everyday life. At the same time they influenced the setting of boundaries between “private” and “official” in re-interpretations of urban space and of the events being set in this space.

We welcome articles oriented both theoretically and empirically. The preferred topics of the proposed articles are:
• Everyday life in the public/private spaces
• Urban rhythms and routines and their persistence and disruptions
• Celebrations and festivities
• Work and leisure
• Consumption in the urban environment
• Representation of the socialist home – dwelling forms for the socialist family

Please, send your proposals (maximum 300 words) in Czech, Slovak, or English till June 30, 2012 to the e-mail address of editor-in-chief of the Èeský lid: jiri.woitsch@post.cz

The editors of the monothematic issue of the ethnological journal Èeský lid will inform you of acceptance or refusal of your proposal by August 31, 2012. The final version of the article must be submitted by December 31, 2012. The monothematic issue of the Èeský lid will be published in autumn 2013.

The editorial board of the Èeský lid, and guest editors Jana Nosková, Slavomíra Ferenèuhová, Lucie Galèanová, Barbora Vacková, are looking forward to your proposals!

CFP – Politics of Place – new peer-reviewed postgraduate journal

–an interesting opportunity for graduate students–

Politics of Place is a peer-reviewed journal for postgraduates. It publishes exceptional research focusing on the relationship between culture and spatiality in works of literature, engaging particularly with issues of nationhood, community, class, marginality, and the self. The journal places specific emphasis on the complex interactions between physical environments and human activity.

The journal is now seeking submissions for the first issue, the focus of which will be ‘MAPS AND MARGINS’. For this issue, we are keen to receive papers that deal with ideas of space, place, mapping, journeying, and discovery. We want to explore notions of mapping from the physical to metaphysical and metaphorical, and to cast light upon margins of the self and society – within the page, beyond the page, or beyond the map. To be considered for this issue, papers must be received by 30 JUNE 2012.

To find out more about the journal and how to submit, please visitwww.exeter.ac.uk/politicsofplace.

Politics of Place is supported by ECLIPSE (the Exeter Centre for Literatures of Identity, Place, Sustainability, and the Environment), which is based in the Department of English at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus – internationally recognized for its leading research in this field.