Urban Cultural Studies AAG session in Boston – April 6, 2017

If you are heading to the American Association of Geographers, make sure to stop by our Urban Cultural Studies interactive Short Paper Session with 11 different presenters.

Interactive Short Paper Session:

2201 Urban Cultural Studies is scheduled on Thursday, 4/6/2017, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Room 101, Hynes, Plaza Level

10:00 AM   Introduction: Benjamin Fraser – East Carolina University, Editor of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies and Co-Editor of the Hispanic Urban Studies book series

10:05 AM   Author(s): *Gillian C. Rose, Prof – The Open University
Abstract Title: Digital/visual/urban

10:10 AM   Author(s): *Andrew C Rajca – University of South Carolina
Abstract Title: Imagined Spatial Aesthetics and Everyday Life in São Paulo in Lina Chamie’s A via láctea

10:15 AM   Author(s): *Phillipa Gardner – University of Sheffield
Abstract Title: Remaking the Museum, Reshaping the City

10:20 AM   Author(s): *Sinead Petrasek –
Abstract Title: “Allied with the Antimaravilla: Arts-based Community Practices and Resistance to Authorized Heritage Discourse in Quito, Ecuador”

10:25 AM   Author(s): *Juan Pablo Melo – Stanford University
Abstract Title: Building the Abstract Public Sphere: Enrique Peñalosa’s Urbanism and the Production of Space in Bogotá

10:30 AM   Author(s): *Allison Huetz – University of Geneva
Abstract Title: Fairground attractions and Amusements Parks in Geneva (1890-1914). Picturing the world, creating Weltstadt

10:35 AM   Author(s): *Adam D. Morton – University of Sydney
Abstract Title: Spatial Serge: The Urban Revolution in Victor Serge

10:40 AM   Author(s): *Nino Lannes Bozzetti Navarro –
Abstract Title: London’s literary landscapes: urban tensions in Zadie Smith’s NW

10:45 AM   Author(s): *Pablo Sendra – University College London
Abstract Title: Representation of London’s Modernist Estates in Films: Communities and their Neighbourhoods as Movie Sets.

10:50 AM   Author(s): *Agustin Arosteguy – Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil)
Abstract Title: The territory as a space for leisure

10:55 AM   Author(s): *David L. Prytherch – Miami University
Abstract Title: Rendering a More “Complete Street:” Mobility Justice from Planning Discourse to Urban Design

11:00 AM   Discussant: Benjamin Fraser – East Carolina University

Session Description: The AAG session on Urban Cultural Studies takes an interdisciplinary approach to the culture(s) of cities.

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.

Beneath the pavement, the (Fascist) beach.

In May, 1968, Central Paris was occupied by students protesting capitalism and the Gaullist ruling government, later joined by millions around France, bringing the economy (briefly) to a halt. A slogan painted across Parisian walls was Sous les pavés, la plage!, loosely translated to ‘Beneath the pavement, the beach’. The beach: literally, the sand upon which Paris’s cobblestones rest; but figuratively, the opportunity to remake a different city, a city not bound by the same rules, institutions, or repressive structures. A city of dreams; of liberation.

From a cafe in San Francisco now, once known as the ‘Paris of the West’ – like Paris, a traditional bastion of left-leaning philosophy, culture, and urban experiments, I watch the rain falling through a cafe window as a particularly menacing Pacific storm rolls through the Golden Gate. Across the cafe sits the City Supervisor from this neighborhood, openly gay and a proud father, the first such official with HIV. This is a city of mercy; these streets wrap the marginalized like blankets.

Beneath the pavement, the beach. On these streets have marched social justice warriors; they rise. They rose. On these streets at night dance the ‘Sisters of the Perpetual Indulgence’, a queer nun troupe, ‘promulgating universal joy since 1978’ (in their words), spreading a gospel of human rights. Of dignity. Beneath these streets, the ghosts of Harvey Milk, shot dead (in 1978); of the flower children (some still dancing); of those urban souls led to their doom in Guyana by the mad pied piper, Jim Jones (in 1978). Of the generation lost to AIDS. The dead ‘cling like chewing gum to the heels of the living’, as that Parisian Walter Benjamin (1935) wrote, the flaneur lost in the city’s spectral magic. Soon, lost forever, as darkness approached. 1940, at the age of 48.

Beneath the pavement, something darker. An undercurrent more malevolent, more ominous. A beach littered with warning signs, eroding away into the anything-but Pacific. How can we – as urban theorists, as urban dwellers, as cultural scientists, see past the everyday city to the rising threat we now face? City streets have always been patchworks of the beacons of light and the shadowy corners of the human condition. But something new is stirring. In 2017.

Two brief anecdotes. At a flea market in nearby Oakland some months ago, I was browsing at a particularly quirky assortment of knick knacks. Old family photos; an old license plate. Some pewter. A portrait of former president HW Bush. A political comment made – admittedly, a snide one about the Bushes. The proprietor of the stall – veteran, based on the clothes and symbols; began a loud rant against liberals – eventually chasing us away from his stall. A violent instant, raised tension. A tear in Elijah Andersons’ (2012) ‘Cosmopolitan Canopy’. And this, in Oakland – ostensibly the most liberal major city in America.

An Uber ride. San Francisco, rainy day. Quiet conversation with driver. Subtle political comment made, complete silence. Probably not sharing my opinion of the new president. Who is the Uber driver? Who is the knick-knack antique hawker? Who are the more than 10 percent of San Francisco voters – this city of Love, of comforting fog, of St. Francis – who voted for Donald Trump? Neighbors.

On the news today, rumors (fake? real?) of the militarization of the national guard to round up undocumented immigrants, no doubt working in the kitchen of this cafe, in countless kitchens, in homes. Neighbors.

Beneath the pavement, the beach. The 1968 Paris uprisings, for a moment, turned France upside down, and a space of hope glimmered like a match before burning out. I fear that the urban revolution lurking underneath America’s streets will not be as hopeful. We must face what lies beneath, as theorists, as citizens. Lest it consumes and drowns us.*

Online roundtable on Hispanic Urban Cultural Studies

We would like to invite you to a continuation of a series of events that the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona is launching again in Virtual Reality. They will take place at Cibola, the Department’s home in Second Life. Next conversation will be between Malcolm Compitello (The University of Arizona), Susan Larson (Texas Tech University), Susan Divine (College of Charleston), Juliana Luna Freire (Framingham State University), Megan Saltzman (West Chester University), Matt Feinberg (Case Western Reserve University), and Laura Vazquez Blazquez (ABD, The University of Arizona). During these meetings we will discuss the relationships between Urban Studies and Hispanic Culture. Everyone interested is welcome!

For Tuesday, 2/21, we will go over Wendy Brown’s Intro and Chapter 1 of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. If you need the text, please let us know. We will meet at 5:00 p.m. Tucson time (7p.m. EST).

We hope to see you at the event. In order to access Cibola, you will need to install the latest version of Firestorm Viewer in your computer http://www.firestormviewer.org/downloads/ (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/cibola/26/180/28).

Again, everyone is welcome to attend and participate. If you need help, please contact any of us.

Archiving the City/ The City as Archive


Registration is now open for this event in the UK, co-organised by Gareth Millington (University of York) who is also an assistant editor of JUCS:

Archiving the City/ The City as Archive

Thursday 16 March 2017, University of York, UK 10.00am-6.00pm

Confirmed keynote speakers: Sharon Macdonald (Humboldt), Paul Jones (Liverpool), Rebecca Madgin (Glasgow) and Graeme Gilloch (Lancaster).

This event, hosted by the Centre for Modern Studies and supported by the Department of History and Department of Sociology at University of York, considers the cultural forms through which the modern city is archived. It critically examines the different ways—via institutions, public art, collective practice, and more—in which urban history and memory are organised and presented in contemporary culture. It also engages with how the spaces and architecture of the city may themselves present as an archive, offering up reminders of social and cultural processes, imaginaries, struggles and events.

The symposium engages with Henri Lefebvre’s (2014) argument that the reign of the city is ending; that the city now only exists as an image and an idea. In addition, the importance of heritage in gentrification processes and the museification of the historic urban core reveals, at least in part, the sense of loss through which that the modern metropolis is remembered. This connects more broadly with Derrida’s (1996) notion of ‘archive fever’, which, he understands, is part of a compulsive, repetitive culture; a ‘homesickness’ born of a ‘nostalgic desire to return to the origin’ (ibid: 167). Through keynote speakers and panels the symposium will explore perspectives that make links between contemporary archiving processes, city museums, visual culture, heritage urbanism, ‘authenticity’ and the cultural regeneration of historic urban spaces.

Registration costs £10.00. You can book your place here: http://store.york.ac.uk/product-catalogue/centre-for-modern-studies/conferences

Introducing Juliana Luna Freire, another JUCS Assistant Editor

Hello! My name is Juliana Luna Freire and I am an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Framingham State University, just outside Boston. My scholarship focuses on 19th to 21st-Century Latin American and Spanish Literature, Cultural Studies and Film with a focus on ethnic identity, urban space, and gender. I am excited to join the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies editorial team.


I also previous experience in local and international editorial boards, including volunteering with The Arizona Journal of Hispanic Studies, working as editor and editorial assistant of the graduate journal Divergencias (the University of Arizona), having peer-reviewed for journals such as Hispania, Crisolenguas, Rocky Mountain Review, and currently am member of the editorial board of Pró-Letras, published by the Universidade Federal da Paraiba, in Brazil.

My dissertation was entitled “Ethnic Minorities in Brazil and Spain: Erasure & Stigmatization, Gender, and Self-Representation of Indigenous and Roma Communities” (2012). Specifically, I have published articles on urban space and its relationship to discourses of identity (race, ethnicity, and national affiliation) in contexts of contemporary globalization, bringing into the discussion the relationship between New Media and the use of city areas. This research project has led to a manuscript focusing on Roma self-representation in Spain, as well as other published articles. At the moment, I am doing research on systemic violence and its representation in the Luso-Brazilian world, and the ways how “rhyzomatic revolutions” have been taking place in increasingly networked societies (Castells, Merrifield).

Anyway, I am looking forward to participating here, and thank you for reading!



Introducing Jasmine Mahmoud, another new JUCS Assistant Editor

Hi! I am Jasmine Mahmoud, Postdoctoral Fellow of Inequality and Identity in American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. My work examines how aesthetics, race, and policy influence urban geographies. I also write and teach about black aesthetics, acts of activism, and urban ethnography. I am very happy to be part of the JUCS team, and hope to bring an attention to how performance practices, aesthetics, and race animate the making of urban space.jasminephoto

Trained in Performance Studies, I center the study of performance practices (artistic, cultural, and everyday embodied actions) to study processes of urban development such as “renewal,” displacement, and gentrification. My dissertation, “Avant-Garde Frontiers in the Austere City: Political Economics of Artistic Placemaking in the Post-Millennial United States,” investigated contemporary performance practices (such as experimental theater and performance art) in urban margins. It examined how performance aesthetics interacted with race, policy, and processes of displacement in New York, Chicago, and Seattle, three arts-rich cities, during and after the Great Recession. This study relied upon ethnographic interviews with artists, venue owners, and policymakers; ethnographic observations of artistic practice; and analysis of policy and discourse. A cultural history attentive to aesthetics, race, and urban experiences, the dissertation suggested that artistic performance may not only be considered an aesthetic and economic practice, but also a geographic pradram-2014-58-issue-3-coverctice that produces aesthetic and racial meanings of space. Publications arising from this research include “Brooklyn’s Experimental Frontiers: A Performance Geography,” published in 2014 in the “Performing the City” special issue of TDR: The Drama Review, and “An uncharted persistence: Alternative minoritarian theater in Chicago” published in the 2017 anthology edited by Chinua Thelwell, Theater and Cultural Politics for a New World. I am currently revising the dissertation into a first book project, Avant-garde Geographies: Race, Policy, and Experimentation in the Urban Margins.

Since living in St. Louis, I’ve begun to work on my second book project, Acts of Black Citizenship: Performance and Politics in St. Louis in the Era of Black Lives Matter. Based on ethnographic interviews and observations, this project centers performance and aesthetic acts by black artists in St. Louis to understand local and national questions of citizenship and politics. A few months ago, I participated icommunity-gardenn Neighborhoods United for Change, an anti-segregation initiative bridging black neighborhoods with white neighborhoods in St. Louis. I wrote about this experience for The Common Reader.

This semester, I am teaching “Urban Ethnography in St. Louis.” This course trains students to observe and document life in St. Louis with an attention to race, space, and processes of displacement and development; I hope to bring lessons from this course to JUCS. In particular, I am interested in documenting questions of and approaches to urban cultural studies pedagogies. Thank you for reading!

‘Urban society is the battle ground for new forms of radical and progressive politics: it has to be’: Andy Merrifield on fifty years of the right to the city

Andy Merrifield is one of most cogent and absorbing writers on the French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre. I have fond memories of reading his chapter on Lefebvre in the excellent collection of essays on Marxist thinkers on the city that Merrifield published in 2002, MetroMarxism.51c1w4lefel__sx335_bo1204203200_

I was coming towards the end of my PhD thesis at the time–in which I’d drawn upon Lefebvre a great deal–but I was still unsure whether my interpretation was ‘correct’ or whether it had any place at all in a thesis about racism on the periphery of the city and how some of the answers to overcoming this lie in urban space itself. Andy’s chapter provided the reassurance I needed. He is that kind of writer.

Just a few days ago Andy published another excellent piece on Lefebvre, this time celebrating (and commiserating) the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Right to the City. It’s an insightful and hopeful read in these worrying times and you can find it here: