Antonio López García’s Everyday Urban Worlds (and prezi)

My new book Antonio López García’s Everyday Urban Worlds: A Philosophy of Painting is entering production with Bucknell University Press – it should be available in August 2014 (appearing on amazon at present for pre-order).

It represents rather a new form of writing for me – inspired by the meandering and philosophical style of Spanish author / civil engineer Juan Benet’s El ángel del señor abandona a Tobías (1976) where he mixes a range of disciplinary questions together, using the famed painting of the same name by Rembrandt as a point of departure.

Here I’ve devoted a chapter each to specific paintings (Gran Vía, Madrid desde Torres Blancas, and Madrid desde la torre de bomberos de Vallecas…), which I use as points of departure to fold Spanish literature, film and urban planning together with larger interdisciplinary and philosophical, geographical questions.

If you CLICK HERE you can see a ‘prezi’ that I’ve used with a lecture focusing on an excerpt of the second chapter’s Madrid desde Torres Blancas (visuals only).

Hispanists and Interdisciplinary Research symposium at U of Arizona

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is pleased to welcome back two of its most distinguished PhDs for a Colloquium and Panel Discussion. This session responds to the call from provost to rethink how we do interdisciplinarity on campus. Professors Susan Larson, Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Kentucky and Ben Fraser, recently promoted to Associate Professor at the College of Charleston will return to take part in a symposium entitled Hispanists and Interdisciplinary Research.

The colloquium  will take place on   Wednesday April 3 from 3:30-5:15 p.m. in the Santa Cruz Room of the Student Union Professor Larson will speak on “The Spatial Politics of Spanish Cultural Studies.” The Title of Professor Fraser’s talk is“Urban Cultural Studies: A Visit to Biutiful Barcelona.” Their talks will be followed by Panel Discussion on doing interdisciplinary research that will feature the two speakers as well as JP Jones, Dean College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Malcolm Alan Compitello, Head Department of Spanish and Portuguese who this semester are teaching an innovative interdisciplinary class on Space and Culture that brings together students from the College of Humanities and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Continue reading

4 Videos posted from CUNY-GC URBAN UPRISINGS conference (Nov 2012)

If I had eight hours, I’d watch all of these videos posted at the site of The Center for Place Culture and Politics:

Part 1: Opening Keynote (David Harvey) and Urban Uprisings of the 1960s: Living Legacies (Chair: Frances Fox Piven, Jordan T. Camp, Marian Kramer, Karen Miller)

Part 2: Global Urban Uprisings (Chair: Peter Marcuse, Hiba Bou Akar, Mavuso Dignani, Deen Sharp, Éva Tessza Udvarhelyi)

Part 3: Securitization and the City (Chair: John Whitlow, Mizue Aizeki, Christina Heatherton, Pete White, Helena Wong)

Part 4: Roundtable on How to Organize a Whole City (Chair: Kazembe Balagun, Ujju Aggarwal, Tammy Bang Luu, Rachel LaForest, Rob Robinson, Miguel Robles-Duràn)

Saskia Sassen [brief video]– the gap between data and urban knowledge

“If knowledge is about the city … then you are beginning to tell an urban story”

Great short video on how data is different from knowledge (“knowledge is not simply a data set”); getting knowledge from data requires an interpretation, an experience in a way that data does not. The video comes from the Picnic festival: Life in Readable Cities hosted by the European Journalism Center.

Here’s also her piece on “Why Cities Matter”.

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies [video posted online]

For anyone interested in watching it here is a link to the lecture–or rather to the exercise in organized rambling–I gave at the University of Kentucky, now on UK vimeo:

“Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre, Space and the Culture(s) of Cities”

To watch video, click above or go here:

Thanks again to the Department of Hispanic Studies there. The prezi itself can be seen in the background on the screen, but as announced before can also be viewed here. See also this previous post for more general information about the talk.

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies [prezi]

I just returned from delivering an invited lecture at the University of Kentucky, which I titled:

Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre, Space and the Culture(s) of Cities.

Clicking on the above link will take you to the prezi that accompanied the talk, which includes video and audio clips, although it leaves out the first 15-20 minute set-up which was devoted to the academic spat between C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis in their 1959 and 1962 lectures (see an earlier post). The talk was a form of organized rambling at a general level about Lefebvre’s insights into cities, the timeliness of urban cultural studies, interdisciplinary issues in general, David Harvey, city rhythms, and so on, so a lot is left out of the prezi alone, but it may still be interesting to watch. Given that I was pitching the talk so broadly, I was thrilled that so many non-Hispanic Studies faculty/students were able to make it.

If you haven’t seen or used prezi before (higher functionality/privacy free for educators with an .edu email address) I can say that it may blow your mind as a presentation format (I was blown away when I first saw this used at a conference last year). After watching a prezi (many are ‘public’/freely available on the site to view) it becomes clear just how much power point presentations are linked to the cultural moment in which I grew up–which revolved around linear slideshows of non-digital photography (didn’t you hate it when that one slide got stuck in the projector?).

Special thanks to U Kentucky Professors Susan Larson and Aníbal Biglieri in particular, and also to many other faculty members from both the Department of Hispanic Studies there (and its fantastic graduate students) and beyond, for making it such a great experience!

28 Hispanists on the City in Literature (Conference Proceedings from 1983 Unearthed)

Cleaning my office I once again ran across the published proceedings from a 1983 conference: Hispanic Literatures, 9th Annual Conference, October 21-22 1983, “Los escritores y la experiencia de la ciudad moderna [Writers and the Modern City Experience]”. Potentially really fascinating stuff, and all written a bit before the urban bug really caught fire in Hispanic Studies (almost 30 years ago…).

The titles are really interesting–I know that a few were likely published or rewritten for publication later, but I suspect that most all of them–as so often happens with conference proceedings–were great insights that never found a home. I’ll be that this is one of the few copies of this proceedings out there, although correct me if I’m wrong. There are contributions by Teresa Vilarós, Farris Anderson, Alberto Moreiras, Howard M. Fraser, Genaro Pérez, Barbara Mujica, Robert Sims and many, many more…

Here’s the table of contents…

28 Articles by Hispanists on the City in Literature

This is the kind of thing that needs to be put out there as a book given the increasing interest in the topic, but I’m sure permissions would be a pain (perhaps impossible to get…). I should mention that the collection was edited by J. Cruz Mendizábal.

If you’re a Hispanist, take a look!

Doreen Massey in Madrid

[This is my own English translation of the post at the multipliciudades blog found here in Spanish (forgive my errors)–note the event has passed, but still a great post].

The event of the month, without any doubt: Doreen Massey visits Madrid for the presentation of the book that geographers Abel Albet and Núria Benach have written on her, Doreen Massey. Un sentido global del lugar [Doreen Massey: A Global Sense of Place] recently published by Icaria Editorial. The event will be this Thursday the 7th at 19:00 in the Traficantes de Sueños bookstore (35 Embajadores street, #6), which with [its support of] this type of encounter once more affirms its vanguard positioning beyond the borders of conventional academia.

Those who follow the blog are familiar with the devotion that I [Álvaro Sevilla Buitrago] profess for Massey, who seems to me to be a key thinker for understanding not only Feminist geography but also the critical geography developed over the past thirty years more generally. That being said, you can’t risk missing her talk. Below is the text advertising the event:

DOREEN MASSEY: Espacio, lugar y política en el momento actual [The current state of space, place and politics]

How do we employ space in making politics? How do we employ politics in making space? With a long career as both intellectual and professor and characterized by a strong voice that is always present in political debates, Doreen Massey (Professor Emerita of the Open University, UK) is a central figure of the critical work on space. She has made key contributions to the concepts of space and place, to the relationships between space and power, to the connections between the local and the global, and regarding the responsibility of certain centers of power in relation to other spaces. These are matters of theoretical importance that await the remarkable talent for contemplation exercised by Massey, who uses everyday examples and clear words to imbue them with greater relevance and utility.  

Capital, Time and the City audio remix

How would an audio remix (3’30”) featuring David Harvey incorporated into a yo la tengo song along with some Steve Reich, Radiolab and a history lecture-podcast on the 19th-century city sound?

[the video got pulled from youtube, but you can listen to the audio on my homepage; click on the music tab on the top menu–there are some other remixes there drawing from lectures by/about Spanish authors.]

The Spanish City: 2012 KFLC Book Round Table

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Just back from Lexington where I took part in the following session featuring 5+ scholars with recent books out on the Spanish City (both Madrid and Barcelona were represented). I have to say that what I enjoyed most was the discussion format–I had never taken part in nor seen a session like this before (sad to say now, looking back), each presenter shared a concise 5-8 minute talk about the contents and approach of their book, and then a lively discussion followed, relating to larger issues in the field (well, better said, relating to the fields of both Hispanic Studies and Cultural/Urban Geography). Not sure if I can (or want to) go back to the traditional paper format. I had always been skeptical of the discussion format as advertised in other conference venues, but done right, it is much more interesting and productive than traditional papers by far. Kudos to Susan Larson and Malcolm Compitello for a great session. Although some of the books below are pending publication (those by Mercer and Santiáñez should be out soon), links are available below as appropriate:


Organized by: Susan Larson, U of Kentucky; Chaired by: Malcolm Compitello, U of Arizona

Speakers: Benjamin Fraser, C of Charleston; Nil Santiáñez, St. Louis U; Carlos Ramos, Wellesley C; Leigh Mercer, U of Washington; Nathan Richardson, Bowling Green State U 

This roundtable brings together scholars who have recently published monographs on the cultural politics of Madrid [and Barcelona]. Each book will be briefly presented, whereupon there will be an open discussion of the different theoretical and methodological possibilities as well as the challenges of researching the representation of urban space.

What I took away from the session was the energy of a geographical paradigm shift in the humanities. Discussions centered around the relevance of the humanities to urban planning, the possibility of resistance to capital, pedagogical approaches, the future of digital humanities research (particularly the hypercities project mentioned previously on this blog) and the potential for collaborative work (by undergrads, grad students and faculty) across disciplines. Of course the obstacles that limit these sorts of changes were also discussed, but energy and time can make all the difference.