This interdisciplinary conference aims to explore the ways in which physical transformations of urban spaces have been negotiated and/or narrated over time. The politics of space continues to attract leading research, especially during moments of palpable transition such as the tearing down of city walls or the rebuilding of war-damaged districts. In these situations, struggles over municipal laws, codes, or regulations, or the changing aesthetics or rhythms of urban spaces illuminate a great deal about how the city has been imagined. They underscore the narratives that urban dwellers, professionals and government officials have told about the built environment and used to influence its transformation. In this sense, the imagined geography, image, role and importance of a city as conceived by a myriad 'interested parties' is as important as its physical reality. However, these rhetorically and visually defined cities never stop taking their legitimacy from the physical city.
This conference seeks to gather together academics from a number of disciplines interested in this relationship between material change and discourse. Some examples of the many ways in which this can be explored include investigations into the primacy of place in debates over urban change, be it structurally, politically, or socially understood. Likewise, investigations of mental geographies have enriched our understandings of clashes over urban development, through an increased sensitivity to how different forms of borders are created and policed. Other researchers have looked to explore questions of memory or heritage in material change. Indeed, this holds true for a whole range of political, social or cultural ideas. And of course, explorations of the relationship between the local and the global have raised fascinating questions of how urban identities were understood in space and changed across time.
We are seeking papers that consider the complexities of negotiating and/or narrating urban transformations according to any disciplinary approach. There are no restrictions on geographical region or time period but a reference to change according to one of the following themes:
- Infrastructural change
- Changes in housing and/or living standards
- Changing regulations, including of the sounds, smells and rhythms of urban life
- Local and/or global relationships in the city
- Aesthetics or artistic depictions of the city
- The development of heritage and sites of memory
- Changing tensions between secular and religious spaces or relationships
- Policing, surveillance and deviance
In order to ground the conference discussions in the realities of navigating change in the city, the conference will also include a number of architects and urban planners to help enrich the ways in which we talk about the city.
The conference will take place at Nuffield College, University of Oxford and will be consist of panels of short summary presentations based on pre-circulated papers of 5-6000 words. There will be no conference fee - coffee and meals including the evening meal are included. Limited funding to subsidize travel costs and accommodation is available, to those without a full wage or institutional support.
Paper proposals of up to 500 words and as well as an abridged curriculum vitae should be sent to S.R.Davies@swansea.ac.uk by 31 October 2014. The conference language will be English.
Please address all queries to: Sheona Davies, S.R.Davies@swansea.ac.uk