Issue 1.1 currently in production:
UCS 002 Thornbury on Trains, Gender, and Fictional Characters in Tokyo (3 August 2013) Conversational interview inspired by scholar Barbara Thornbury‘s article “Tokyo, Gender, and Mobility: Tracking Fictional Characters on Real Monorails, Trains, Subways, and Trams,” forthcoming in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (1.1, 2013). Focusing on “My Slightly Crooked Brooch” by Noboru Tsujihara, other prose works and films discussed include Real World (Natsuo Kirino), The Thief (Fuminori Nakamura), “Newlywed” (Banana Yoshimoto), Train Man (Shosuke Murakami), and Café Lumière(Hsiao-Hsien Hou). [LINK TO ORIGINAL PUBLISHER]
The 2012 T2M Transportation and Mobility Conference was held in Madrid — since this was my first time attending I would have to say I would definitely go back. It was a very cozy and even intimate conference with a conversational feel, sessions were well attended and discussion was lively. Each year they take what I would call a ‘class photo’ above you can see the photo from this year. Usually there are optional excursions highlighting the theme of the conference — the one I went on was a tour of the ‘ghost station’ Chamberi in Madrid that is open to those interested, now as a museum of sorts–not to be confused with the Railway Museum / Museo del ferrocarril, which was the conference’s central location (Delicias). The session comprised by Susan Larson, Araceli Masterson and myself was framed as a way of blending trains/transportation with culture in general terms, and the discussion was quite interesting indeed, (thanks to those who made it so worthwhile!), and even though most of the other sessions were not as ‘cultural’ (in humanistic terms) there was a great talk on intermodality in Anglophone film as well as some fascinating airport talks (the phrase “airports are about cars” is now etched in my memory). Anyone who attended the excursion to the ghost museum should take a look at Araceli’s paper on that very museum, which can be found with some other excellent articles in this book (ch. 8) – Trains, Culture and Mobility: Riding the Rails (2012). See the full program below… Continue reading
CFP-edited book on Marxism and Urban Culture
Submissions are invited for an edited book on Marxism and Urban Culture that has received initial interest from an international publisher known for their strength in Marxian-themed series and titles.
While all abstracts using a Marxian framework to approach culture in urban contexts are welcome, it is anticipated that submissions will conform to one of two subtypes reflecting the division of the book into Continue reading
The Journal of Urban Cultural Studies is a new peer-reviewed publication cutting across both the humanities and the social sciences in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities. The journal is open to studies that deal with culture, urban spaces and forms of urbanized consciousness the world over.
Although we embrace a broad definition of urban cultural studies, we are particularly interested in submissions that give equal weight to: a) one or more aspects of urban studies (everyday life, built environment, architecture, city planning, identity formation, transportation…) and b) analysis of one or more specific forms of cultural/textual production (literature, film, graphic novels, music, art, graffiti, videogames, online or virtual space…) in relation to a given urban space or spaces.
Essays of 7,000-10,000 words (including works cited and notes) should be sent by attachment to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org. JUCS is also open to proposals of special issues by guest editors working individually or in teams of two. All citations in other languages should be translated into English for the journal’s international reading public, in addition to including the original text.
While the journal does not publish book reviews, we do publish review essays—which should discuss 3-5 recent books on a shared topic or theme (or place) and run from 2,500 to 4,000 words. Review essays of urban-themed installations or other works of art are also welcome. These essays will be reviewed in house. Given our visual focus, we are interested in original, unpublished artwork on the topic of cities and in publishing articles accompanied by images where appropriate.
We encourage a variety of approaches to the urban phenomenon—the strengths of the editorial board run from urban geography to literature and film, photography and videogames, gender and sexuality, creative economy, popular music, Marxist approaches, fashion, urban planning, anthropology, sociology, Deaf culture, built environment, philosophy, architecture, detective fiction and noir, and more…
If you are heading to Paris before the end of August you might want to check out the current temporary exhibit at the Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine. This museum used to be known as the Musée des monuments francais [c cédille] and is situated in the Palais de Chaillot, which sits across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower.
The exhibit is called “Circuler. Quand nos mouvements faconnent [c cédille] nos villes,” or “Flow. When Movement Shapes Our Towns,” (their translation). By way of introduction, the museum’s website offers the following short text, of interest as it shows the ambitious nature of the ideas the exhibit tries to get across to visitors:
Our lives are made up of moments of activity and inertia, comings and goings, arrivals and departures. Space within towns and between towns is organized to support this constant movement. From the earliest days almost, towns were structured to allow for both the gathering of men, and their accumulated wealth, and, at the same time, to facilitate movement and encourage meetings and interaction.
The exhibition offers the visitor the opportunity to follow the development of urban design through the ages and explore the urban spaces and buildings which are a consequence of man’s movement across the land. The exhibition incorporates both real-world movement, dating back thousands of years, together with today’s virtual movement. Streets and squares, roads, motorways or railways, ports, caravanserail, stations and terminals, compact cities and sprawling towns – these are just some of the places and concepts, born out of our desire for movement, which punctuate the history of our land. The exhibition takes the visitor on a playful and sensory journey, presented as a theatre set. Reconstructed roads, computer generated images, films, soundtracks composed by Louis Dandrel and Bernard Lubat, transport the visitor through time and space, leading him to reflect on his environment and future. While the 20th century was characterised by a sort of “transport war” strongly influenced by the myth that progress equalled speed, the start of this century represents a time to question our travel and movement patterns. The exhibition makes numerous novel suggestions about how man can organize his life of motion. In this exhibition, Jean-Marie Duthilleul illustrates how town development should achieve a subtle balance – a balance that needs to be constantly adjusted – between movement and stillness, between places you stay in and places you pass through. When you design a town, you are designing a system to accommodate groups of people and allow for interaction. Thus the town is the result of a constant dialectic between mobility and immobility.
As has become common for temporary exhibitions, a celebrity of sorts has been designated as ‘commissaire’ of the exhibit: not really curators, they lend their prestige, fame, or institutional gravitas to the exhibit, in addition to any design input or writing they may contribute. For this one, architect Jean-Marie Duthilleul, who has an interesting professional connection to the subject: he has had a hand in designing dozens of train stations, both new and remodels. (A partial list of his projects can be found on the French-language Wikipedia, here.) For this reason, one of the stronger points of the exhibit is in fact the material on French train stations near the beginning of the tour. Another strong point worth highlighting here has nothing to do with train stations: near the end of the tour, the curators have prepared some very interesting ways to map how often, where, and when Parisians use their cell phones using data from Orange’s cell network (a corporate sponsor of the exhibit, btw). Visitors can observe mappings of cell-phone use in the city on certain important dates like New Year’s Eve, during the Fête de la Musique, etc. Adjusting some parameters the same data can be used to trace the routes and distances inhabitants take through the city–which, if one had more control over the datasets, would allow for potentially very rich ways of visualizing how urban spaces are used by various subsets of users. (Including mappings that would be akin to the bubble-map of Budapest bicycle use posted below).
Does the exhibit work, in the sense that it might successfully convey important observations and assertions from mobility and urban studies to a mass audience? Meh, in my view it’s a mixed bag. It’s certainly an interesting exhibit for visitors who go in with a particular affinity for the topics and in seeing how they handled, but it may not generate much excitement or enthusiasm in those who don’t. At times it’s too abstract and misses opportunities to engage the visitor, and at others it’s too focused on gadgetry and downright naively utopian. Still, I think it’ll be of interest to readers of this blog–check it out and post your thoughts here!
So I’ve been trying to have students do more technologically advanced projects for the classes I teach in Spanish, sometimes related to urban themes… This last semester I taught 18th & 19th-century Spanish literature, and included a number of literary essays/stories relevant to urban studies and I had them use iwork [a layout/magazine program for MAC] to create their own digital magazines on topics related to the class readings. In the future I’d like to assign a project where they make videos too, so I figured I’d better learn exactly how easy that would be for undergraduates. This video [in Spanish] on a short story by Benito Pérez Galdós titled “La novela en el tranvía” is the result (just a first effort, probably not ‘A’ material just yet…).
Nothing like a light, humorous reading at the end of the semester when the summer still seems a distant dream (although the last day of class is April 23rd–not too shabby–and I’m heading to a conference next week the KFLC–not that many urban sessions but there seem to be more every year-check the program).
Luckily, the Proposals for Rationally Improving the City of Paris hits the spot (available in the Situationist International Anthology and also online here). Not light humorous reading necessarily, maybe serious, humorous reading… Continue reading
During May 2011 (ending May 15th) I visited the exhibition titled ‘Trazos Singulares [Singular Strokes],’ which was on display in Madrid’s Nuevos Ministerios metro station.
The exhibition comprised some sixty works produced by thirty artists with developmental disabilities [see above slideshow-my photos], and significantly, the work of artistic production was itself performed in situ between the 5th and the 8th of April. This simple decision has an understated significance given the history of the public (in)visibility of disability that has been written about so lucidly, for example, by Licia Carlson in her book The Faces of Intellectual Disability.
Also of interest is that the artists produced images of Madrid’s urban environment and transport systems (subway). An easy criticism would be that since the event was sponsored by Metro Madrid, it was a showy form of outreach/advertising, but I think that the event transcends that critique in some respects.
In my view this event raises questions of access to the city (Lefebvre’s question: who has the “right to the city”). This exhibit necessarily highlights how disability, urbanism and the interplay between the creative imagination and the built environment are all connected.