citythreepointzero

Image

There’s a hint of opportunism about this volume, a collection of essays on capitalism and the city dating from 2008. It gives Occupy something to feed on, and arrives nicely for the one-year anniversary of Britain’s riots, and the Olympic Games. No matter: we need people like Harvey to articulate an alternative to the capitalist city and its tendency to turn it into a relentless parade. There is much to like here: a critical introduction to the relationship between ‘fictional’ capital and real estate development; some commentary on the Left’s anxieties about social organisation, especially the problem of ‘horizontality’ (p. 70); a fascinating encounter with the ‘rebel city’ of El Alto, near La Paz. Much alludes to Harvey’s gloomy but compelling work on Baltimore, in which that small American city comes to represent the destructive power of capital, and the emptiness of its attempts at economic revival. ‘Revitalisation’ so often…

View original post 923 more words

Review – World Film Locations (books and [ipad] app)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I finally had time to check out the World Film Locations publishing project I’ve been meaning to explore for a while, actually I started by downloading the ‘World Film Locations’ app for the ipad, which is free, and which allowed me free access to view the ‘World Film Locations: Madrid’ – the other titles are available for purchase. (disclosure: published by Intellect, who is the publisher for the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies: more on that soon).

It was a bit different than I anticipated – which I think is a good thing – that is, I thought these would be standard academic articles, but it is much more of a visual catalog of film scenes featuring specific parts of the city (there are WFLocations volumes for a number of other cities: Berlin, Vienna, Las Vegas, Reykjavik, Melbourne, Istanbul, New York, London, of course Paris…).

There are brief readable descriptions/introductions with specific titles that sound like traditional academic articles on film (‘Iván Zulueta: Films of Madrid’s Underground’ by Steven Marsh, ‘Embracing Normalcy: Madrid Gay Cinema at the Turn of the New Millennium’ by Helio San Miguel, ‘Beyond the Cliché: Madrid in Twenty-first Century American Thrillers’ by John D. Sanderson, ‘Bright Young Things: Neo-existentialism in Madrid Cinema of the 1990s’ by Rafael Gómez Alonso), which cite interviews with film directors (Carlos Saura) and get further into film traditions, actors, directors, culture (La Movida) – but, importantly, with English translations (by Marsh for one, who is a name Hispanists will recognize; the editor of the volume is Lorenzo J. Torres Hortelano (of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid), who has in addition assembled a team of former-student photographers to help complement the volume visually).

They concise vignettes are framed with a general map/plano of the city itself as an organizing principle showing where in the city each scene takes place, and still shots of the films under discussion. I have to say I was impressed with the range of films chosen and the depth of the discussion given the spatial limitations (the volume, in this case an e-book is a visually stunning 128 pages).

While reading through this one, it occurred to me that the book would serve as quite an advantageous model for teaching in particular, I might have (film-/Spanish-) students compose their own similar volume. Here is some praise from the series site:

Praise for World Film Locations: New York: ‘An elegant tribute to the films and locations that have given New York its private real estate in our minds. The contributors are so immediately readable and movie-savvy.’ – Roger Ebert

Praise for World Film Locations: Paris: ‘A superbly edited collection explores the most important movie city in the world’ – David Sterritt

Praise for World Film Locations: London: ‘A superb book, indispensable for any cinephile interested in London’s psychogeography. I could pore over it for hours.’ – Peter Bradshaw

new edited book: The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs

The Urban wisdom of Jane Jacobs Cover

New Book Announcement:

The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs (2012)–published by Routledge, edited by Sonia Hirt and Diane Zahm–will be commercially available on August 8. For a list of contributors and chapter titles, click here.

Resistance, Cooperation and Cities as Craft: More on Sennett’s Trilogy

So I’ve posted before on Richard Sennett’s series that begins with 2008’s The Craftsman, continues with 2011’s Together and will end, he says, with a book on the construction of cities that will follow from his earlier looks at craft and cooperation.I’m open, of course, to the criticism of his perspective I’ve heard that cities are in fact not crafts — but I want to highlight a useful metaphor he establishes in Together, pp. 208-12 in a brief section titled “Working with Resistance”:

“The third embodiment relates the artisan’s encounters with physical resistance to difficult social encounters. The artisan knows one big thing about dealing with resistance: not to fight against it, as though making war on knots in wood or heavy stone; the more effective way is to employ minimum force.” (208)

“Resistance arises, then, in physical matter itself and also in making sense of matter, the second kind of difficulty often spawned by better tools. In fighting against resistance we will become more focused on getting rid of the problem than on understanding what it is; by contrast, Continue reading

Three Spatial/Geo Humanities books…

I finally found time to grab a few books from the library that have looked interesting:

The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship (Indiana 2010)

Envisioning Landscapes, Making Worlds: Geography and the Humanities (Routledge 2011)

GeoHumanities: Art, History, Text at the Edge of Place (Routledge 2011) (this link is a review)

(let’s see if I can find time to read them)…

I’m particularly interested to gauge the extent to which geographers are engaging with the literary text without reducing it to content, something that seems to have been a temptation for David Harvey in particular. Just having reread the introduction to Engaging Film–a great book, but one whose introduction attempts to reinvent the wheel in that it simplifies the notion of film as a “representation of reality” and then seeks to provide an “antiessentialist” vision of film that of course can be traced back to the very complex nature of the theories it cites (e.g. Siegfried Kracauer’s theory of film)–it seems that a more thorough reconciliation of the humanities and social sciences is necessary.

Peter Marcuse Poem — “When it comes to the Right to the City..”

A friend just sent me this poem by Peter Marcuse, included with the Afterword of the 2012 Routledge book Cities for People, Not for Profit: from what I can see, the book itself seems to be linked with a special issue of the journal City from 2009 available here and was commented on pre-publication at Progressive Geographies here.
“Light verse”

When it comes to the Right to the City,
Don’t get mired just in some nitty-gritty,
Maybe break for a ditty,
Even if it isn’t so witty,
Making it boring would be a real pity.

You need to understand class,
If you don’t want to fall on your ass;
It isn’t so easy,
But if you get queasy,
And fudge it, you’ll lose it, alas.

If to critical theory you’ve aspired,
But in abstractions have gotten yourself mired,
Link your theory with action,
Help theory get traction,
You’ll get clearer, be useful — and tired.

The Spanish City: 2012 KFLC Book Round Table

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

HISPANIC STUDIES SPECIAL SESSION 5: THEORIES AND CULTURAL POLITICS OF REPRESENTING SPANISH CITIES (New Student Center, 211)

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.

Initial Thoughts on ‘Total Landscape’

So here are my initial thoughts on the volume reblogged earlier on a recent book titled Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space (2006) by Miodrag Mitrasinovic with Ashgate. I wanted to give the book a closer look before forming an opinion. And I still have questions as I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet…

The first issue is this: Continue reading

Images, essays related to Madrid’s inclined towers

For those who read the earlier post on the Torres KIO in Madrid with interest, here is a book just out featuring one half of the towers on the cover.

The great thing is the photo itself, which was taken by photographer Miguel Sandoval Díaz, an incredible shot–the extended exposure time allows for shadowy, mobile traffic at the bottom right (although that is slightly covered up in the layout). If interested in his photography (I believe he is based in Madrid), he has volunteered his email (msandoval1985@gmail.com) as contact information.

For hispanist scholars, there are three essays in the book (Nathan Richardson, Susan Divine and Thomas Deveny) that deal with the films of director Alex de la Iglesia–the towers, aka the Puerta de Europa appear in his cult classic The Day of the Beast (1995)–and a few more that deal with geography/urban space in literature and film (by Edward Baker, Susan Larson, Agustín Cuadrado, Araceli Masterson, Shalisa Collins…).

Notes from Chinese Urban Cultural Studies

This just in from Robin Visser at the U of North Carolina, Chapel HIll:

As for upcoming events and resources in Chinese urban cultural studies I can tell you about the following:

Urban China listserv: URBAN-CHINA@jiscmail.ac.uk

Mar 30, 2012
Workshop on “Cosmology, Isomorphism, and Sustainability in Chinese Urban Forms” (organized by UNC-Chapel Hill for the China Triangle Forum): contact Stephanie Nelson, Carolina Asia Center, nelsonsc@email.unc.edu

Environmental Narratives and Urban Change in China
Piper Gaubatz, Professor of Geography, University of Massachusetts Amherst
“New Cities” and the “Virtual Rural” in Twenty-first Century China
Robin Visser, Associate Professor of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The “New Socialist Countryside”: A Case Study in Sichuan Province
Yan Song, Associate Professor of Urban Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

May 11-12, 2012
Workshop (organized by Duke University) and Forthcoming Publication:
Development and Displacement: China and its Global Footprint, Carlos Rojas and Ralph Litzinger, eds.

Forthcoming Publication:
New book: The Chinese City
By Weiping Wu<http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/weiping_wu/>, Piper Gaubatz<http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/piper_gaubatz/>
To Be Published July 30th 2012 by Routledge
http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415575751/

China’s cities are home to 10 per cent of the world’s population today. They display unprecedented dynamism under the country’s surging economic power, and they challenge conventional urban theories and experiences of cities elsewhere. Their remarkable transformation builds on immense traditions, having lived through feudal dynasties, semi-colonialism, and socialist commands. Studying them offers a lens into both the complex character of the changing city and the Chinese economy, society, and environment.

This text is anchored in the spatial sciences to offer a comprehensive survey of the evolving urban landscape in China. It is divided into four parts with 13 chapters that can be read together or as stand alone material. Part I sets the context, describing the geographical setting, China’s historical urban system, and traditional urban forms. Part II covers the urban system since 1949, the rural-urban divide and migration, and interactions with the global economy. Part III outlines the specific sectors of urban development, including economic restructuring, social-spatial transformation, urban infrastructure, and urban land and housing. Finally, Part IV showcases urbanism through the lens of the urban environment, lifestyle and social change, and urban governance.

The Chinese City offers a critical understanding of China’s urbanization. This comprehensive book contains a wealth of up to date statistical information, case studies, and suggested further reading to demonstrate the diversity of urban life in China.