Introducing Jasmine Mahmoud, another new JUCS Assistant Editor

Hi! I am Jasmine Mahmoud, Postdoctoral Fellow of Inequality and Identity in American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. My work examines how aesthetics, race, and policy influence urban geographies. I also write and teach about black aesthetics, acts of activism, and urban ethnography. I am very happy to be part of the JUCS team, and hope to bring an attention to how performance practices, aesthetics, and race animate the making of urban space.jasminephoto

Trained in Performance Studies, I center the study of performance practices (artistic, cultural, and everyday embodied actions) to study processes of urban development such as “renewal,” displacement, and gentrification. My dissertation, “Avant-Garde Frontiers in the Austere City: Political Economics of Artistic Placemaking in the Post-Millennial United States,” investigated contemporary performance practices (such as experimental theater and performance art) in urban margins. It examined how performance aesthetics interacted with race, policy, and processes of displacement in New York, Chicago, and Seattle, three arts-rich cities, during and after the Great Recession. This study relied upon ethnographic interviews with artists, venue owners, and policymakers; ethnographic observations of artistic practice; and analysis of policy and discourse. A cultural history attentive to aesthetics, race, and urban experiences, the dissertation suggested that artistic performance may not only be considered an aesthetic and economic practice, but also a geographic pradram-2014-58-issue-3-coverctice that produces aesthetic and racial meanings of space. Publications arising from this research include “Brooklyn’s Experimental Frontiers: A Performance Geography,” published in 2014 in the “Performing the City” special issue of TDR: The Drama Review, and “An uncharted persistence: Alternative minoritarian theater in Chicago” published in the 2017 anthology edited by Chinua Thelwell, Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World. I am currently revising the dissertation into a first book project, Avant-garde Geographies: Race, Policy, and Experimentation in the Urban Margins.

Since living in St. Louis, I’ve begun to work on my second book project, Acts of Black Citizenship: Performance and Politics in St. Louis in the Era of Black Lives Matter. Based on ethnographic interviews and observations, this project centers performance and aesthetic acts by black artists in St. Louis to understand local and national questions of citizenship and politics. A few months ago, I participated icommunity-gardenn Neighborhoods United for Change, an anti-segregation initiative bridging black neighborhoods with white neighborhoods in St. Louis. I wrote about this experience for The Common Reader.

This semester, I am teaching “Urban Ethnography in St. Louis.” This course trains students to observe and document life in St. Louis with an attention to race, space, and processes of displacement and development; I hope to bring lessons from this course to JUCS. In particular, I am interested in documenting questions of and approaches to urban cultural studies pedagogies. Thank you for reading!

‘Urban society is the battle ground for new forms of radical and progressive politics: it has to be’: Andy Merrifield on fifty years of the right to the city

Andy Merrifield is one of most cogent and absorbing writers on the French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. I have fond memories of reading his chapter on Lefebvre in the excellent collection of essays on Marxist thinkers on the city that Merrifield published in 2002, MetroMarxism.51c1w4lefel__sx335_bo1204203200_

I was coming towards the end of my PhD thesis at the time–in which I’d drawn upon Lefebvre a great deal–but I was still unsure whether my interpretation was ‘correct’ or whether it had any place at all in a thesis about racism on the periphery of the city and how some of the answers to overcoming this lie in urban space itself. Andy’s chapter provided the reassurance I needed. He is that kind of writer.

Just a few days ago Andy published another excellent piece on Lefebvre, this time celebrating (and commiserating) the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Right to the City. It’s an insightful and hopeful read in these worrying times and you can find it here:

Another new JUCS assistant editor: Introducing Gareth Millington

Hello, I’m Gareth Millington, another of the new assistant editors on Journal of Urban Cultural Studies. I’m a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at University of York, UK. An urban sociologist ‘by trade’, I’m a member of CURB, University of York’s Centre for Urban Research and I also co-convene a research stream with David Huyssen in the University’s Centre for Modern Studies called Archiving the City.


My work thus far has focused on ‘race’, racism, migration and urbanization. This culminated in my 2011 book ‘Race’, Culture and the Right to the City (Palgrave Macmillan). I have also written about urban protest and resistance, notably papers on the 2011 London riots (see ‘I Found the Truth in Foot Locker’ in Antipode last year) and a paper on resistance to territorial stigmatisation in a Parisian banlieue (co-authored with David Garbin and published in Urban Studies in 2012).


My theoretical inspirations have tended to be authors such as Henri Lefebvre, Marshall Berman, Iris Marion Young and Paul Gilroy although more recently I have engaged considerably with the work of Jacques Rancière on the relationship between politics and aesthetics. (A short article on Berman, titled Right to the City (if you want it) was published in JUCS in 2015.)

In recent work I have attempted to examine some of the neglected cultural dimensions of so-called ‘planetary urbanization’. A paper from 2016 (published in IJURR) considers the clash of city images found at a recent L.S. Lowry exhibition at Tate Britain. My most recent book, published late in 2016, is the most significant product of this work. Titled Urbanization and the Migrant in British Cinema: Spectres of the City, the book closely examines the urban ‘content’ of a series of independent films made about migration during the late 1990s and early 2000s, arguing that together they comprise an incipient aesthetics of expansive urbanization; a mondialising aesthetic that differs radically from and counters that of the ‘classic’ mid-century metropolitan way of seeing the city.


My current projects include a study of urban aesthetics in interior design magazines during the ‘long’ pre-Crash decade of 1997-2008 (using a cultural political economy approach) and a revisit of the territorial stigma study in La Courneuve, Paris with David Garbin, taking into consideration recent developments such as urban renewal, increased Islamophobia and the resurgence of Le Pen’s far right.

Anyway, that’s a quick-ish introduction. More from me soon!

Introduction: Andrew Barnfield



My name is Andrew. I am Assistant Professor in Public Health and the Built Environment at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). My main areas of interest are practices of physical activity, Post-Socialist Cities, and autonomous geographies. My interests are associated with the interrelations of moving bodies and space, and how these develop novel experiences, affectual intensities and all sorts of interactions within cities. My interest in moving bodies has developed to include questions of physical activity and public health policy within cities, primarily in the form of recreational running clubs and post-socialist urbanism. I predominately write about Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It is a city that I am pleased to call home and a place I miss every time I am away.


My main focus in my research is on recreational running as it is a democratic and ubiquitous activity, while at the same time challenging the notions that cities are sites of alienation and decline. I am fascinated by the novel ways small urban practices can inform notions of autonomy and the desire to establish pluralistic versions of urban life. I am primarily a qualitative researcher and I utilise a range of research methods. These include participant observation, ethnographic studies, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and go-along methods. I am extremely excited about working with my fellow assistant editors to help grow the Journal of Urban Cultures and explore new avenues of urban analysis. I hope that together we will be able to participate in a journal that brings thought-provoking scholarship and beautifully written pieces to a wide audience.

JUCS 3.3 available!

Volume 3 Issue 3

Cover Date: September 2016

Comics art and urban cultural studies method through Chris Ware’s Building Stories (2012)
Authors:  Benjamin Fraser

Page Start: 291
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Gathering place: Urban indigeneity and the production of space in Edmonton, Canada
Authors:  Karen Wall

Page Start: 301
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Not a fantasy city: Composition, fotogènia and the reconquesta del real in the theatrical and cinematic land/lang-scapes of Barcelona
Authors:  Loredana Comparone

Page Start: 327
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Cartographies of disappearance: Thresholds in Barcelona’s metro
Authors:  Enric Bou

Page Start: 347
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Re-thinking cinema and the city in crisis: Film, narrative agency and urban transformation in selected recent publications
Authors:  Mark Schmitt

Page Start: 373
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Berlin: Images of a transformed city
Authors:  Bastian Heinsohn

Page Start: 381
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Issues of space and spatiality in contemporary Spanish Peninsular studies
Authors:  Vinodh Venkatesh

Page Start: 389
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Literary studies after the spatial turn
Authors:  Alexander Beaumont

Page Start: 395
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Between crisis and creativity: Esther M. K. Cheung’s study of the everyday
Authors:  Winnie L. M. Yee

Page Start: 407
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Hello in the New Year

My name is Jason Luger and I am a human geographer and lecturer in urban studies at the University of San Francisco and UC Berkeley. My research and academic interests lie at the intersection of urban space, politics and policy; specifically, I have been exploring the linkage between art, activism, politics, and the city.

San Francisco, my adopted hometown, has always been a place with an intimate relationship between art and urban space, from the art/music/activism of the 1960s to the political street art that now adorns the walls of the Mission district, telling stories of gentrification, police violence, inequality and injustice (see below). In a city where economic divides increasingly define the everyday experience, where homeless encampments drape the sidewalks beneath exclusive towers, and where digital data pulses through the city’s arteries and veins just like the precious drinking water, art remains a crucial medium through which to consider identity, power, justice, and truth.

I am happy to join Urban Cultural Studies as assistant editor for 2017-2018, and hope that I can help stimulate conversations and debates about the difficult, complex, and uncharted waters that cities now find themselves in, as socio-cultural and political hurricanes ravage – and challenge – the status quo around the world. This represents a crucial opening for provocative, enriching, diverse and intersectional conversations about urban culture – and I eagerly invite such conversations.


Street Art in the Mission neighborhood, San Francisco, 2016 (Author’s Photo)


A brief introduction


My name is Carol Anne Costabile-Heming, and I am a Professor of German at the University of North Texas. Since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I’ve been fascinated with the city of Berlin, its ever changing cityscape, and the ways that the city wrangles doing justice to its history while simultaneously embracing the future. In my capacity as Assistant Editor and contributor to this blog, I hope to entice you to explore the ways that memory, urban studies, and area studies intersect, and pique your curiosity about culture and urban studies in Germany.