JUCS 1.3 content list

Pleased to announce that Issue 1.3 (2014) of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies is in final production, content below:

EDITORIAL

Inaugural editorial: Urban cultural studies – a manifesto (part 2)

RESEARCH ARTICLES

The worst tourists in the world: Gangsters, heterotopia and the space of global capital In Bruges

Alternative sprawls, junkcities: Buenos Aires Libre and horizontal urban epistemologies

‘Alas, alas. House, oh house!’: The collapse of the Cologne City archive

Spaces for reading, a cartography of used books in urban Latin America

Urban tellurics in Barcelona: Between a Heideggerian rock and a postmodern swimming pool

SHORT-FORM ARTICLES

Geographies of street art: Shepard Fairey and the trans-scalar imagination

Bodies and sculptures: Moving mountains

‘Psychogeography of the Boundary’: An author interview with Eric Hazan

Sydney’s Chinatown/Chinese cities

[Full abstracts available below]

Inaugural editorial: Urban cultural studies – a manifesto (part 2)

[Benjamin Fraser, East Carolina University]

This two-part editorial launching the first volume of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (JUCS) details the need for and significance of an urban cultural studies (UCS) method, broadly conceived. Focusing on two specific areas of interdisciplinary study – the ever-shrinking gap between film studies and geography and the rise of spatial theory in literary studies, this installment of the editorial hopes to tease out the problems and potential that arise with discipline-crossing scholarship. Overall, UCS foments a dialogue between art and society – between textual/representational (humanities) understandings of culture and anthropological, geographical, sociological (social science) approaches. This is ideally accomplished within a reconfigured urban studies paradigm that continues to embrace its characteristic focus on architecture, built environment, city planning, everyday life, identity formation, land-scape, space/place and transportation, while venturing further into artistic terrain than ever before – films, literature, music, sequential art, painting, digital humanities approaches and more.

 

The worst tourists in the world: Gangsters, heterotopia and the space of global capital In Bruges

[Erica Stein, Marymount Manhattan College]

Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges (2008) has generated a substantive body of literature that investigates the collision it stages between the conventions of the travelogue and the conventions of the crime narrative. This criticism, however, does not address the way in which Bruges itself is produced and positioned as socio-economic space. This article argues that In Bruges first constructs and then deconstructs the eponymous city as a heterotopia and, in doing so, sheds light on the common heterotopic qualities of both touristic and illegal spaces. More important, the operations of the narrative produce Bruges as a node in an undifferentiated space of global capital, whose primary characteristic is that of criminality.

Alternative sprawls, junkcities: Buenos Aires Libre and horizontal urban epistemologies

[Allison M. Schifani, Case Western Reserve University]

The horizontally organized Buenos Aires Libre is a cadre of new media artists, programmers and technophiles building their own autonomous network, apart from the Internet, in Argentina’s capital city. This network uses line-of-sight connections via directional antennae to link members and users throughout the urban landscape. The following article explores ‘junk’ and ‘sprawl’ as conceptual and material terrain activated by the network and its users. Both sprawl and junk help it to construct alternative epistemologies of urban life and to highlight the centrality of urban space to political, economic and informational systems at work in the contemporary city.

 

‘Alas, alas. House, oh house!’: The collapse of the Cologne City archive

[Dora Osborne, The University of Edinburgh]

When the Historical Archive of the City of Cologne (known as Cologne’s City Archive) collapsed in 2009, a municipal institution became visible in quite unintended ways. The incident and its consequences tell us about the structure, constitution and regulation of the archive as such but also about the significance of the archive for the memory culture that shapes Germany today. This article turns to the collapse to show how the archive is implicated in the politics of the city and of memory. In the midst of other local scandals, the disaster has become an emblem of political and moral breakdown in Cologne, but it has also confronted citizens with the loss of something fundamental – given, but perhaps not acknowledged – to their identity. This article outlines the response to the incident more broadly, before focusing on works by the British Jewish artist Tanya Ury (Fury, 2009, archive burn out, 2014) and the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek (Ein Sturz/A Fall, 2010), which use the former archive as a site of resistance, challenging the prescriptive, patriarchal logic of the archive and its implications for the culture and politics of memory.

 

Spaces for reading, a cartography of used books in urban Latin America

[Marcy Schwartz, Rutgers University]

This article explores the spatial dimensions of used books in Latin American cities. Used books are sold in shops and on the street, recirculated in public book exchanges, and collected in small neighbourhood libraries. Public parks, art installations and even novels feature used books prominently. The routes and itineraries of used books map an alternative consumer culture that challenges or defies the neo-liberal econ-omy that has dominated the region for several decades. Whether through grass-roots solidarity initiatives or broad-based municipal programming, used books occupy Latin American cities and reveal a persistent culture of the book in the region. The article offers examples of used book sales and circulation in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Lima and New York, and contributes to the current turn in the history of the book towards material culture that examines the process, use and value of the book in its social, cultural, economic and political context.

Urban tellurics in Barcelona: Between a Heideggerian rock and a postmodern swimming pool

[Edgar Illas, Indiana University]

This article reflects on the possibility of resisting globalization by relying on some sense of the local as found in public art and public space. The term ‘urban tellurics’ explores how the notion of the tellurics of place, which I derive from Heidegger’s thinking and from Kenneth Frampton’s proposal for a Critical Regionalist archi­tecture of resistance, interacts with the reality of endless urbanization within global capitalism. To articulate this relation, I focus on a singular public space in Barcelona, the Parc de la Creueta del Coll, designed in 1987 by the architectural firm MBM. The park was ‘sculpted’ on the slopes of a former stone quarry and includes a sculpture by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida that hangs above a swim­ming pool. Heidegger considered Chillida’s work the most precise embodiment of his thought on art and space. Thus, focusing on the tension between the telluric elements of the park and the flat surface of the swimming pool provides a good occasion to reflect on the contradictions between Heideggerian rootedness and the flatness of capitalist globalization. ‘Urban tellurics’ aims to enable forms of spatial resistance that are neither reactionary returns to the provinces, nor mere celebrations of city diversity, nor simple manifestations of political struggle.

Geographies of street art: Shepard Fairey and the trans-scalar imagination

[Mark Long, College of Charleston]

Street art is an emerging art form that insists on unmediated access to the urban realm. It seeks to reconnect urban populations with their surroundings by unset­tling apparently banal landscapes that serve to reinforce dominant world-views. It operates through our reimagining of the urban environment, with designs on broader rethinking of our ways-of-being. This article charts new geographic imag­inings through Shepard Fairey’s ‘Power & Glory’ exhibition in Charleston, South Carolina. ‘Power & Glory’ posits a trans-scalar geographical imagination, originat­ing in new senses-of-belonging in the city to describe an arc from local to global; to return, finally, to the city as the immediate scale of existence.

Bodies and sculptures: Moving mountains

[Kate Evans, Swansea University]

This short-form article examines the relationships between people and place through a case-study of the practice of parkour. In 2009, the sculpture Cader Idris (1999), by William Pye, was removed from its prominent position outside Cardiff Central Railway Station in Wales’s capital city. During the ten years it had occupied this location, the sculpture had become popular amongst practitioners of parkour (known as traceurs). Traceurs aim to move freely along a freely determined trajectory, with­out inhibition or recourse to prescribed routes, approaching objects as aides to move­ment rather than obstacles. The incorporation of Cader Idris into such routines was cut short by the sculpture’s relocation away from the central area to become part of an art trail – a move some felt related to concerns over the use of the work. Ongoing cycles of urban redevelopment and regeneration challenge the ability to take for granted the longevity of familiar sites, and traceurs’ focus on mobility offers a novel way of approaching the changing urban landscape. By tracing the movement of a sculpture from its original location to a new site, the short-form article considers how human and non-human bodies in motion might facilitate new ways of defin­ing and engaging with the built environment through notions of materiality and the sensing body.

‘Psychogeography of the Boundary’: An author interview with Eric Hazan

[Matthew Beaumont, University College London]

Eric Hazan is the founder-director of Editions La Fabrique, which has published a number of important radical works in France since the late 1990s, above all translations of dissident Israeli and Palestinian writings. He is also the author of several books, some of which have been translated into English, including, The Invention of Paris (2011), A People’s History of the French Revolution (2014) and, with Alain Badiou and Ivan Segré, Reflections on Anti-Semitism (2013). ‘Amid the intellectual murkiness of the European scene, a few bright flames are burning’, the editors of New Left Review have written, ‘as witness the work of Eric Hazan’.

Sydney’s Chinatown/Chinese cities

[Donald McNeill, University of Western Sydney]

Interpreting the inscription of ‘Chineseness’ in cities beyond China is a challenging process. This article reflects upon some recent architectural and urban design issues in what is known as Sydney’s ‘Chinatown’. Drawing on some of the insights provided in Li Shiqao’s recent book, Understanding the Chinese City (2014), it provides a commentary on some of the challenges facing architects and urban designers in their attempts to rearticulate Sydney’s Chinatown. This comes at a time when development processes in central Sydney are seen as being driven by apparently contradictory forces of supertall apartment building design and fine-grain, low-rise ‘heritage’ streetscapes.

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