AAG 2018 CFP: Urban Cultural Studies

The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies is organizing an interactive short paper session at the Association of American Geographers Conference to be held April 10-14, 2018 in New Orleans. Each of the 10-14 panelists in the Urban Cultural Studies session will present a 5-minute summary of research or studies in process. A 30- to 45-minute interactive roundtable discussion will follow the presentations.
The CFP is as follows:
In recent years, cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social science disciplines, but there has been relatively little real dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. On the one hand, social science fields that use urban studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close-readings of the representation of cities in individual novels, music albums/songs, graphic novels, films, videogames, online ‘virtual’ spaces, or other artistic and cultural products. On the other hand, while there is increasing discussion of urban topics and themes in the humanities, broadly considered, there are very few venues that are open to these new interdisciplinary directions of scholarship. Driven by a methodology that links urban geography and cultural studies work, this session features applied and theoretical papers focusing on urban spaces the world over.
Abstracts address both an individual city itself and also its cultural representation. The session foregrounds studies that achieve some balance between discussing an individual (or multiple) cultural/artistic product(s) in depth and also using one of many social-science (geographical, anthropological, sociological…) urban approaches to investigate a given city. Specific topics vary, but emphasis is placed on geo-humanities approaches and representational/spatial practices. This session is also linked to the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Journal,id=225/) and its accompanying blog at urbanculturalstudies.wordpress.com.
In order to submit an abstract, you must first register for the conference here: http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/register. Once registered, you will need to proceed to the abstract and session submission console. Select the New Abstract button on the console page, and follow the on-screen instructions to submit the appropriate abstract type. You will receive an email message when you have successfully submitted your abstract to confirm that it has been accepted. If you need guidance on how to format your abstract for AAG, see here:

After submitting your abstract, please contact Stephen Vilaseca at svilaseca@niu.edu with your assigned PIN number and he will include you in the session.

The abstract submission deadline is October 25, 2017.
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Dividing Lines: a mapping exercise by Sarah Sims

As many of us gear up for teaching in the upcoming (or already upon us) academic year, I wanted to share a mapping exercise. This exercise asks students to consider how their lived experiences dialogue with internal and official maps of the city they live in and engage with conceptions and urban practices of segregation, division, and equity.

I learned of this exercise from Sarah Sims, K-12 Programs Manager at the Missouri History Museum. Sims facilitates teacher professional development, guides museum educators, and leads workshops such as “Summer Teacher Institute about Civil Rights” and “Community as Classroom: Place-Based Education for Social Justice.” I met Sims when my “Urban Ethnography in St. Louis” class toured the museum’s #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis exhibit (which runs through April 15, 2018). We then used this mapping exercise in a subsequent week.

Having students map, I have a found, provides an inquiry-based awareness of maps as constructed representations of place and space. Who constructs maps and what information is used to make “official” maps, such as google maps, atlas maps, or government-used maps? What information do maps include and exclude? How does one’s own experience in place contribute to internalized views of space? In what ways are maps engines of segregation, dispossession, and division? In what ways might maps be used for equitable outcomes for vulnerable and marginalized communities? These are some questions my students considered before, during, and after they constructed their own maps.

Maps by students Eddie Campell and Dylan Bassett

For this exercise, you’ll need:

-1 sheet of paper per student (larger sizes like 11” by 17” are ideal, and 8.5” by 11” will work)

-7 colored pens/pencils/crayons highlighters per student (or have students share). The following, per student, is ideal:
1 black permanent marker
1 brown pencil, crayon, or pen
1 green pencil, crayon, or pen
1 purple pencil, crayon, or pen
1 blue pencil, crayon, or pen
1 red pencil crayon, or pen
1 yellow/orange pencil, crayon, pen, or highlighter

-(if possible, but not necessary as you can narrate directions), access to AV to present the following steps in slides

Sims’s exercise begins with a slide called “Dividing Lines,” which gives an overview of the significance of this exercise. She writes:

In this activity we will consider maps of our communities
-Not as we see them on google maps, or government maps, or other such official maps.
-But how we internalize the spaces of our community in our minds and memories, and how we live and move in those spaces.
-And how these internal/lived maps contribute to how we conceptualize, talk about, and  compartmentalize our communities.

Next, she frames the exercise:

-You’ll all make your own map
-Fill in as much as you can
-Be as detailed as you can
-We will add different components to our maps in a certain order, so please follow the steps
-This is not an artistic competition!

The seven steps are as follows – they are framed for St. Louis but applicable to any city. Make sure to give time, about 3 to 5 minutes, for each step.

Step 1: City (Black)

“Draw the shape of St. Louis.”

Note: I showed my students a slide of St. Louis to help them draw the shape of the city.

Step 2: Neighborhoods (Brown)

“Fill in as many of the different neighborhoods in the city (or county) as you can.”

“Don’t worry about their exact shape just get the neighborhoods with their spatial relationships to each other as you remember them.”

Step 3: Movement (Green)

“Draw/label the major routes you take to move throughout the city (or county).”

“This could include ways you get to work, to recreational events, to run errands, how you move around your place of residence.”

Step 4: Landmarks (Purple)

“Draw/label the important landmarks and places.”

“Think about what the Travel Chanel would highlight in St. Louis, or what a tourist would want to see.”

Step 5: Favorite Places (Blue)

“Draw/label the places that are important to you: places you go to all the time, and/or places you would recommend an out-of-towner should visit.”

Step 6: Explicit Dividing Lines (Red)

“Draw/label major dividing lines within the city and county that serve to separate areas/groups of people/places/etc. Think about the dividing lines that you hear about on the news, read about online or in books, and/or have experienced.”

Step 7: Implicit Dividing Lines (Yellow/Orange)

“Look at your map and lightly shade in the areas that are mostly blank.”

***

After completing this mapping exercise, I asked my students to lie out all maps in a line, and observe them together.

Maps by students Bemnet Tesfaye and Sarah Small

Then we engaged the following questions, borrowed from Sims’s exercise:

  • What stands out to you as you view our maps together?
  • What things are similar about all of our maps?
  • Are there intersections between how we remember the map of our city/community and how we interact with our city/community?
  • What explicit or implicit biases are visible in our maps?
  • What are the implications of our internal/lived maps on our role as students and urban ethnographers at Washington University?

CFP/Conference — Black Geographies: Insurgent Knowledge, Spatial Poetics, and the Politics of Blackness

UPDATED 16 JUN 2017:

The date of the symposium has been moved up to October 11-13.

Black Geographies: Insurgent Knowledge, Spatial Poetics, and the Politics of Blackness

the date of the symposium has been moved up to October 11-13.A symposium hosted by the Geography Department at the
University of California, Berkeley
Organizers: Dr. Jovan Lewis, Dr. Sharad Chari, Camilla Hawthorne, Kaily Heitz
October 11-13, 2017, UC Berkeley
CFP Deadline: June 16, 2017

Black liberation movements around the world, from the streets of Oakland and Ferguson to the shores of southern Europe, have focused international conversations among activists, academics, and artists on the importance of blackness to the geographical imagination. Importantly, this dialogue has elucidated the possibilities of blackness not only as a tool for understanding whiteness, non-being, and social/physical death, but also as a radical framework for envisioning liberation, social justice, and reconstruction. We invite our colleagues to Black Geographies to discuss the possibilities of interdisciplinary work oriented on black geographic thought. This symposium offers geography in general, and black geographies specifically, as capacious fields of inquiry that invite historical, political economic, sociological, and artistic perspectives–as well as a range of “established” and alternative methodologies.

The double valence of our use of “black geographies” refers both to the ways that geography can be used to understand the complex, overlapping spatialities of black life and the stretching of geographical knowledge that takes place when scholars consciously center questions of race and blackness. Katherine McKittrick’s important interventions, for instance, employ the concept of “poetics” to describe those landscapes and places that have been narratively and counter-conceptually created with blackness as their source.

More here.

Emplacing Materiality

What are the materials of urban space and urban life? The dense forest full of volunteer trees and plants. The beveled, dark grey and somewhat translucent fence that surrounds 100-acres of land newly seized by eminent domain. The hoops and nets of a circular basketball court situated within the green of a vertical park. The aged red bricks of a three-story home. The calm pond in the middle of a calm park full of exercise activity stations. What are the materials of urban space and urban life?

Pruitt-Igoe forest

Last weekend, I considered this question as I visited three sites in North St. Louis City.

The first: Pruitt-Igoe/NGA. That moniker, as Heidi Kolk (mentioned below) has explained, is an amalgamation of two very different sites nevertheless linked due to proximity as they are across the street from each other. Pruitt-Igoe was the massive concrete public housing project first occupied in 1954, and demolished in the early 1970s. Although the complex began with the Pruitt tower for blacks and the Igoe for whites, Pruitt-Igoe soon became all-black and during its peak had 15,000 residents. Lee Rainwater’s famed 1970 ethnography, Behind Ghetto Walls: Black Families in a Federal Slum, described residents’ lives. After Pruitt-Igoe’s demolition in the early 1970s, the land slowly become a burly forest. Today, urbanists often venture to the forest, which is now private property: in 2016, developer Paul McKee bought the land from the city for a little more than $1 million. Across the street from Pruitt-Igoe will be the NGA or National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; in 2016, the NGA bought a 100-acre plot within the St. Louis Place neighborhood. Eminent domain recently forced that area’s mostly black 200 residents and businesses to move. Both Pruitt-Igoe’s dismantling and NGA’s development, then, have displaced black residents.

Church within land seized by eminent domain for future NGA site (photo credit: Morgan Brooks)

The second site: a basketball court in St. Louis place. The third site: Fairground Park, site of the 1949 race riot that erupted after whites began to attack blacks near and within the park’s newly integrated swimming pool.

Basketball hoop in St. Louis Place Park (photo credit: Morgan Brooks)

We visited these sites as part Material World of Modern Segregation. A symposium convened by Iver Bernstein and Heidi Kolk, both of Washington University in St. Louis, the event brought together an interdisciplinary group of 20+ scholars (including historians, anthropologists, sociologists, film-makers, and urbanists) researching sites of modern segregation in St. Louis city and county. The symposium offered a chance for scholars to share research conducted thus far, and workshop ideas within and themes across the works. On the second day, Bernstein and Kolk split scholars into four groups, each headed to a region of St. Louis: 1) East St. Louis; 2) St. Louis University/Midtown/Mill Creek Valley (Mill Creek Valley was the thriving mostly black neighborhood of 20,000 demolished in the 1950s); 3) “Delmar Divide”; and 4) North St. Louis (my group).

I thought of geographer Katherine McKittrick throughout the symposium. In her 2011 article, “On plantations, prisons, and a black sense of place,” she defines a black sense of place as “as the process of materially and imaginatively situating historical and contemporary struggles against practices of domination and the difficult entanglements of racial encounter” (949). Crucially for this symposium McKittrick also writes: “[a] black sense of place draws attention to the longstanding links between blackness and geography. It brings into focus the ways in which racial violences (concrete and epistemic actions and structural patterns intended harm, kill, or coerce a particular grouping of people) shape, but do not wholly define, black worlds” (947) Her attention frames the processes that shape the materialites and geographies of black life, such as displacement of black residents and neighborhoods.

I also thought of ethnographer Sarah Pink as we experienced the site visits. In her 2008 article “An urban tour: The sensory sociality of ethnographic place-making,” Sarah Pink details her experience in Mold, Wales, UK. A Cittàslow (or Slow Cities) member town, Mold aims towards, what as Pink writes, “an attentiveness and mindfulness that stresses the quality of experience” (192). Pink describes taking a tour of Mold that emphasized that Slow City status; in the tour she walks with, eats with, talks with, explores with, photographs with, and experiences the city with residents. Her experience is not just one of being with residents; consciousness of the experience in the town also comes when Pink leaves the tour. She writes:

Most striking was perhaps not the process by which, through consuming my half-milk coffee, falling into step with my guides and trying to imagine the futures they mediated, I became attuned to their world. Rather, it was that once walking hurriedly to my car I felt more deeply how my way of both being in and knowing the town shifted as I was disengaged from my hosts and (without my mediators) returned in ‘transport’ (Ingold, 2007) mode to my car. (192)

Two of Pink’s ideas, I find, are crucial. First, she details how emplacement frames ethnographic approaches. She writes, “we should think not only about how the subjects of ethnographic research are emplaced … [r]ather, it invokes the additional question of how researchers themselves are emplaced in ethnographic contexts” (179). Second, she positions the tour as “a case study of an embodied and reflexive engagement with the discourses, materiality, sociality and sensoriality of a particular way of being in a town” (192). We make sense of urban spaces through discourses, materials, social experiences, and sensorial awareness; we also make sense of space by being conscious of how others and ourselves are emplaced. Critically, for the symposium, this approach situates sites and materiality as only given meaning by being emplaced to capture the often under-studied emplaced histories and practices of segregation that pervade St. Louis.

The mesh fence that now surrounds the future NGA was put up in the last few weeks. Within the fenced area still are churches and homes recently abandoned as residents have been forced out. The churches and homes no longer act as spaces for worship and residence; framed by the fence, they are now marked for destruction. At one moment during our visit, as we looked at the fence and through the fence, a security guard driving in a car approached us and added unease to our observations.

Security guard driving towards us within newly fenced area slated for NGA (photo credit: Morgan Brooks)

When we were in the Pruitt-Igoe forest, John Early (a member of our group) mentioned that when he often walks through the forest he feels under his feet a dismantled curb or another remnant of the apartment complex demolished more than 40 years ago. That day, we saw what appeared as a large rock spray-painted in a bright pink color. Also, when within the forest although surrounded by seemingly calm green plants, I felt not ease but anxiety as I was technically trespassing on private property.

We played basketball in the court in St. Louis Place Park Basketball court and then walked by several homes in the neighborhood, including a “new” one. Charlesetta Taylor, one resident of the NGA eminent domain area, was able to have the city pay to move her home a mile away in the northern part of the neighborhood. (Other residents have not had her fate).

Charlesetta Taylor’s newly moved home (photo credit: Morgan Brooks)

As we walked by her recently moved home–which aesthetically seemed to fit into its new block–new meaning was made of the bricks that held together parts of the home, and continued to give strength and resilience in the new location. When we consider the materials of urban life, we make fuller sense of these materials by considering how they engage with our (and more importantly) with residents’ emplacement.

 

Cities and Citizens 17th-Century Studies Conference (13-15 July 2015)

Cities and Citizens 17th-Century Studies Conference

13th July 2015, 09:00 to 15th July 2015, 14:00, Durham University

DOWNLOAD THE CALL FOR PAPERS HERE – deadline 15 January 2015.

Conference website: https://www.dur.ac.uk/imems/events/?eventno=20694

 Confirmed keynote speakers :

Professor Chris Fitter (Rutgers University) Title to be confirmed

Professor Susanne Rau (University of Erfurt) From Urbanization to Urbanity. New trends in exploring the history of early modern cities

Professor Phil Withington (University of Sheffield) Early Modern English Urbanization Reconsidered

The 2015 conference focuses on the topic of ‘Cities and Citizens’ and will focus on the ways in which urban centres were perceived, experienced, understood and represented in the ‘long seventeenth century’ (c.1580-1720). The conference will be held within the World Heritage Site on Palace Green in the heart of the seventeenth-century bishopric capital of Durham.

The conference aims to provide an opportunity for scholars in a range of disciplines to meet and discuss their work on the city and citizenship. Our over-arching theme is the distinctive urban experience of the seventeenth century. How did the seventeenth-century European city arise from late medieval urbanism and become established in the New World? How did the European city stand between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment? How did cities and ‘citizenship’ function in non-European cultures? How did different urban cultures interact and influence one another?

We invite papers on how the built environment of the city was represented in cartography, painting, printed images and in literary and dramatic works. What were the physical and sensory characteristics of the urban environment? How did the material form of the city change? Especially important here is architectural form – civic, ecclesiastical, official and vernacular. How did urban and rural people read the urban landscape? Here we hope to draw on the insights of archaeological theory as well as on Continue reading

CFP – Media City 5 International Conference and Exhibition

CALL FOR PAPERS

MEDIA CITY 5 International Conference and Exhibition
1st ­ 3rd May 2015
Plymouth University, UK
http://mediacity.i-dat.org<http://mediacity.i-dat.org/home/>

The theme of the fifth MEDIACITY conference is reflecting on social smart
cities.

Much of our thinking around technology and the city is based around
polarising paradigms. On one hand we have the smart city agenda that is
underpinned by a vision of data-centred optimisation of urban systems and
on the other hand we have a open-source, citizen driven approach based
around ad-hoc practices and prototyping of counter-culture scenarios.
These paradigms of city visions are described variously through terms such
as “digital city, screen city, media city, sentient city, u-city, fusion
city, hybrid city, intelligent city, connectiCity, pervasive city and the
smart city” and we seek to look beyond the rhetoric and critically reflect
and imagine new models and approaches to media and the city. We want to
challenge over-simplified assumptions around terms such as smart city, and
understand in more detail the complex interactions between social actors
and technological transformations of the city. The aim of the conference
is to consider more fully the multiple, subtle, and interdependent
spatio-temporalities which together work to constitute ICT-based urban
change. In particular we will discuss models of participation, action and
agency, shifting capacity to act beyond the ‘like’ button and to take
responsibility for the future shape of the city.
The conference addresses the approaches and the corresponding design
responses that meet the challenges of social, citizen-centred, smart
cities and communities. It will offer reflective, high quality theoretical
and design-based responses to the question of how media and ICTs can
create alternative responses to current societal challenges.

Topics
We will look at urbanity and digital media and ideas of place and space
and reflect on new models, landscapes and frameworks in the social smart
city. We explore how ‘the city’ as a site of participation is enabled
through media and technology and modes of citizen participation and agency
as well as how temporal installations and urban prototyping enable us to
imagine other possible futures. We will also look to the Internet of
Things to explore the way in which objects increasingly become sentient
actors in urban life. Through this we will address broader issues of
resilience and sustainability and how these intertwine with media and
technological frameworks. We provisionally propose three main sub-themes:

Place
Urban Design, public place-making, network infrastructures and resilience
People
social participation, urban prototyping, big data and agency
Things
The Internet of Things (IoT), sentience, social memory and networked
objects.

The conference audience will be drawn from an interdisciplinary field of
architecture, geography, human computer interaction, planning, media
studies, art and sociology to gather and exchange multiple perspectives on
common challenges.

CONTRIBUTIONS
Submissions to be uploaded to the conference’s EasyChair website:
https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=mc5

Paper abstracts
Paper submissions are a two-stage process. Authors are asked Continue reading

AAG 2015: CFP Urban Cultural Studies

Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Chicago, 21–25 April 2015

Urban Cultural Studies: Call for Papers

Convenor:

Stephen Vilaseca (Northern Illinois University)

The Urban Cultural Studies interactive session features innovative research that connects urban geography and cultural studies in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.

The interactive short papers will explore aspects of urban studies, possibly in connection to humanities texts such as literature, film, graphic novels, music, art, graffiti, videogames and other textual forms of culture or otherwise through social science perspectives on spatial practices, broadly considered.

Each of the 10-14 panelists in the Urban Cultural Studies session will present a 5-minute summary of research or studies in process.

A 30- to 45-minute interactive roundtable discussion will follow the presentations. This session is linked to the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies with Intellect publishers http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Journal,id=225/ and its accompanying blog and podcast series at urbanculturalstudies.wordpress.com.

Please contact Stephen Vilaseca with questions.