Call for Papers 2019 MLA

The Modern Language Association’s Forum on 20th- and 21st-century German literature is proposing a series of panels for the 2019 conference in Chicago that may be of interest to the readers of this blog. The series is entitled “Monuments and Monumentality. Museums, Media, Memory”.

Description:

In 2019, the Humboldt Forum is slated to open as a multiplex museum in the city castle, reconstructed as a monumental marker at the heart of Berlin. By virtue of its scale, this project joins a contested history of museums, monuments and counter-monuments, through which Germany has negotiated questions of patrimony from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first. This series of panels interrogates forms of monumentality across the media of film, literature, museums, and architecture, and asks how these have shaped the discourse on memory in turn.

How have curators, film and visual artists, writers, and architects in German-speaking Europe engaged with, countered, or reinforced monuments, museums, and their histories? How do particular media and genres (re)mediate monuments? How does monumentality negotiate temporal and spatial boundaries? How do the histories of colonialism, fascism, and war challenge contemporary notions of monumentality?

Papers are invited from a variety of disciplinary perspectives: literature, film and media studies, museum studies, art and architecture.

The MLA Forum “Screen Arts and Culture” is co-sponsoring one of the panels of this series.

Please send your abstract of 200 to 300 words to Kerstin Barndt (barndt@umich.edu) on or before March 15, 2018. The MLA will be held in Chicago from January 3-6, 2019.

Advertisements

JUCS enters year 5 of interdisciplinary research on the culture(s) of cities

IMG_1224.JPG

Thanks to all who have helped the journal through our first four years – editorial team, editorial board members, our new assistant editor team, authors of all types (research articles, short-form articles, blog posts), the team at Intellect publishers, and especially our peer-reviewers and readers!

We’re thrilled to have published four special sections to date and more are on the way (already published:”Urban Soundscapes” in vol 2.1-2; “Cinematicity” in vol. 3.1; and both “Imagining Ground Zero” and also “Cities in the Luso-Hispanic World” in vol. 4.1-2).

Araceli, Stephen and I are pleased to be entering year five with the publication of issue 5.1 (going through production) – and therein you’ll find an editorial (“Urban Cultural Studies, Behind the Scenes: Notes on the Craft of Interdisciplinary Scholarship”) where we review the first years of the journal and emphasize the need to continue to forge places for both interdisciplinary scholarship and reflections on critical urban practice.

Here is a sneak peak of what we discuss in that editorial – regarding the percentage of published material that deals with certain forms of cultural content:

JUCS_5_1_Editorial Figure 2 300 dpi.jpg

 

Era o Hotel Cambridge (2017) / The Cambridge Squatter: A Fictional Documentary on Urban Okupation

I again revisit issues of homelessness and housing evictions, this time focusing on a different cultural production from Brazil. The film Era o Hotel Cambridge (2017) is a recent fictional documentary on occupations in the city of São Paulo, Brazil, that analyzes some of the issues in urban housing and private accumulation of interest to those working with urban studies and Latin-American Studies. Translated as The Cambridge Squatter, by the Brazilian cineast Eliane Caffé, the work narrates the period after the bankruptcy and closure of Hotel Cambridge, when rooms and common areas were occupied by homeless individuals from all over. The documentary combines professional actors and real occupants of the building. A prominent feature is its gaze on the lives of immigrants and refugees inside the hotel, as well as an empathetic look on the lives of families and the elderly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A initial shot establishes the center of São Paulo as the physical space where the occupied building is located. In it we see constant reference to Human rights of housing, and a discussion of specific issues affecting immigrants. There are several scenes of foreigners communicating with their families back home. It also documents some of the ways these occupants try to make a living in the informal economy.

In the constant references to the negotiations of urban space, there is clear defense of the political movement “Frente de Luta por Moradia (FLM)” (Front of the Fight for Housing), a collective of different social movement groups seeking fairer urban development and more prompt solutions for the issue of homelessness in urban centers in Brazil.

We should revisit the study by Vilaseca (2013) on the impact of Okupas on global urban activism, focusing on the Barcelona movement dating back to 1997.  There are similarities to consider, showing the power of capital in creating spaces of exclusion in unoccupied areas of urban speculation. At the same time, both examples show new ways of resistance, giving that space new social signification.

As affirmed by Merrifield (2014), “Every Revolution Has Its Agora,” pointing out the concern that revolutionary political acts need to have space for public discussions. In the Spanish context, in the aftermath of the financial crisis there were generalized acts of protest and a general understanding that the political situation had to change, not only from marginalized peoples, but with support from a large fraction of the middle-class. In that context, we witnessed a series of anti-eviction platforms created due to the generalized feeling of helplessness. what we see in this case in São Paulo is the existence of overlooked groups of people: those occupied buildings are ignored, while the legal precautions are fought in a judicial, often invisible sphere. Most urban population, not involved in political activism, will consider those situations as best left ignored or handled by the government without interference. São Paulo is, as a matter of fact, a city with an intense history of gentrification: despite its high rank as a South-American economy, it is a urban space that puts a lot of pressure on low and low-middle classes, evidently serving a transnational financial and corporate elite.

 

Works Cited:

Merrifield, Andy. The New Urban Question. New York: PlutoPress, 2014.

 

Villaseca, Stephen. Barcelonan Okupas: Squatter Power! Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson, 2013.