Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City is now available in paperback. Written by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn from Manchester School of Architecture, the book considers the city and the ‘devices’ that define the urban environment.
‘Urban Maps provides an interesting new way of “minding the gap” between the contemporary urban condition and architectural design. Calling on familiar and well-loved theoretical friends like Walter Benjamin, but also bringing in exciting new contenders such Thomas de Quincey, the narrators interrogate an interdisciplinary array of projects from graffiti to branded environments. The map is posited as a central element of design behaviour, and Brook and Dunn argue convincingly that to address today’s pressing urban issues architecture must move outside its normal frames of reference, and engage with a new vocabulary and conceptual framework comprising images, networks, films, marks and objects.’ Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of…
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This book review first appeared on LSE Review of Books. Clickhere to see original review.
Jerome Krase is an eminent visual sociologist who has for decades photographed the ways that cities in North America have changed through immigrant life and practices. Seeing Cities Change is one of his more important publications which brings together his collection of photographs into a study of urban transformation through photo-documentation. The book is focussed on particular ‘immigrant neighbourhoods’ such as the Chinatowns, Little Italies and Little Polands in ‘western’ cities such as New York, Paris, London, Belgium. The author’s main argument is that it is possible to visually “read” how the “meanings of urban spaces are changed by ordinary people…and in the process how their agency helps them to become both producers and products of those spaces” (p 250). At the heart of this book is the important assertion that spaces matter, material culture matters, architecture matters…
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A version of the following review appeared in Sculpture Journal in 2013
Everybody has a view about concrete, but few of these views are exactly the same: there is no material so contradictory and complex in its application and meaning. I myself became fully aware of concrete’s contradictions in Brazil, latterly accompanied by Forty’s edited book on the country’s modernist architecture (Brazil’s Modern Architecture, 2007). I had never seen so much concrete. But equally I have never been confronted with such a disjunction between aspiration and application. Standing outside Oscar Niemeyer’s MAC art museum in Niteroí, it was impossible to square the MAC’s futuristic form (a flying saucer) with the crudeness of its execution (all cracks and, lumps, like a primary school project). That contrast was really quite disturbing, as the official photographs of the MAC depicted a building of otherworldly sleekness whose construction was a mystery to…
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Please find the entire call in Spanish and English at http://www.crolar.org/index.php/crolar/announcement
Call for reviews, Volume N° 4: CROLAR – Critical Reviews on Latin American Research
We cordially invite you to contribute a book review for “Lo Urbano”, Volume 4 of CROLAR – Critical Reviews on Latin American Research , which will appear in October 2013. CROLAR IV calls for reviews on recent publications on “the urban” and urban phenomena in and from Latin America.
As place of anonymous cohabitation and social diversity (Simmel, 1903), as a sphere of capitalist reproduction and collective consumption (Castells, 1974), via the imaginarios urbanos (García Canclini, 1996), to the “Rebel Cities” (Harvey, 2012), the city has evoked systematic analysis of the tight linkages between public space and collective culture, the effects of capital accumulation, and social discontent. Moving beyond a broad range of questions which have been (or can be) studied in urban environments by the social, cultural as well as natural sciences, CROLAR IV calls for reviews on the particularity of “the urban” itself. Which phenomena constitute “the urban” as a field of study and how are urban areas studied differently from (or even in a dialectical relation to) rural areas?
Many urban theories have claimed to have universal applicability independent of the location they were built from, or where they are applied. Our more specific interest lies in publications which reflect on such dichotomization – either by compiling and comparing research results from diverse locations, or by discussing limits to travelling concepts (Said). It is well known that Latin America is not only the most urbanized continent and the one with the highest inequality in incomes, but that it also offers a long interdisciplinary tradition of urban studies. We therefore also call for reviews which mirror the rich contribution of Latin American urban research to a general understanding of issues such as violence, migration, citizenship, protest, ecology, spatial segregation, or the financial crisis, amongst others. With respect to “the urban”, what can and has been learned from Latin America?
The editorial team is eagerly awaiting your reviews – which may be written in Spanish, Portuguese, English or German – no later than July 15th, 2013. If you are considering writing a review, please take notice of our formal guidelines (http://www.crolar.org/index.php/crolar/about/submissions#authorGuidelines).
Dipl.-Ing. Anke Schwarz
Department Urban and Environmental Sociology
In volume 3 issue 1 of Reviews in Cultural Theory, Joshua Neves has reviewed these two books:
Yomi Braester. Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract. Duke University Press, 2010. 405 pp.
Robin Visser. Cities Surround the Countryside: Urban Aesthetics in Postsocialist China. Duke University Press, 2010. 362 pp.
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…
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