Thursday, February 12, 2015

Call for Articles: Urban Imaginaries

Diffractions - Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture

Issue 5 | Urban Imaginaries

Deadline for articles: April 30 2015​

As James Donald put it long ago, “there is no such thing as a city”. As a complex product of both material and imaginary forces, cities are plural entities at the intersection of geographically and historically specific institutions, governmental intervention, global market relations, political participation and creative transgression. In this constitutive diversity, Donald argued, the city “is above all a representation”. Indeed, the city is continuously made and remade through acts of imagination, grounded as much in the materiality of physical space as in the historically constituted ideas about urban life. In the vein of Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities”, cities, as nations, can be conceived as spaces imagined into existence through multiple forms of representations and collective interactions.

Cities have become, more than ever, an outlet of often clashing social energies, where internal tensions and translocal connections intersect to shape but also contest the way urban life is configured and experienced. The popularity of the term “glocalization” - “the simultaneity – the co-presence – of both universalizing and particularizing tendencies” (Robertson, 1992) - suggests that global fluxes have led both to globalizing impulses and to multiple reactions against cultural uniformity through the “production of locality” (Appadurai, 1996). As social spaces where contradictory impulses coexist, cities are the site of political, legal and economic regulation, but also of creativity and dissenting practices.

Several authors have proposed the term “new metropolitanism” (Lenz et al. 2006) as a new concept to account for urban agency with regard to the material, cultural, social, and political processes that inform daily practices in a metropolitan setting. Drawing a divide between the history of modern metropolis - thoroughly scrutinized by the likes of Walter Benjamin and Georg Simmel - and contemporary world cities, the term “new metropolitanism” pays attention to the reorganization of present-day urban spaces, driven by cosmopolitan ideals, multicultural imaginaries, global economic transformations, political participation and creative vitality. At the same time, the term can be an analytic resource to tackle the conflicting forces at play in contemporary cities, seen as sites of emancipatory fantasies and associative imagination, but also of control, coercion and exclusion.

Rather than unified forms then, cities are heterogenous spaces where “urban cultures of difference” (ibid, 19) come into contact, where conflict and struggle constitute experience and drive change (Brantz et al, 2014). This issue wishes therefore to examine the ways in which cultural and political imagination have shaped and contested the configuration and experience of historical and present-day urban space.

Topics may include but are not restricted to the following:

- Metropolitanism and urban cultures of difference

- Globalization, translocality and placemaking

- Austerity urbanism and post-industrial cities

- Dynamics of creativity and gentrification

- The right to the city: Urban citizenship and participatory culture

- Boundaries, centres and peripheries

- Ghost cities

- Cities and colonial imagination

- Experiencing the city: tourism and authenticity

- City branding

- Entrepreneurial and smart cities

- Surveillance and Public Space

- Cities as affective spaces

- Urban imagination in literature and the arts

We look forward to receiving full articles of no more than 20 A4 pages (not including bibliography) and a short bio of about 150 words by April 30 2015 at the following address:<>.

Diffractions welcomes articles written in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Please follow the journal’s submission guidelines at

DIFFRACTIONS also accepts book reviews that may not be related to the issue’s topic. If you wish to write a book review, please contact us at<>.

Diffractions is the online, open access and peer-reviewed journal of the doctoral program in Culture Studies hosted by the Lisbon Consortium and the Catholic University of Portugal. Find us online at<>.

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