Exposition: Further Reading

33.1 Urban Studies

Shaw, Debra Benita
Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary City Space
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-7834-8079-1

The World Health Organisation estimates that, by 2030, six out of every ten people in the world will live in a city. But what does it mean to inhabit the city in the twenty-first century? Posthuman Urbanism evaluates the relevance and usefulness of posthuman theory to understanding the urban subject and its conditions of possibility. It argues that contemporary science and technology is radically changing the way that we understand our bodies and that understanding ourselves as ‘posthuman’ offers new insights into urban inequalities. By analysing the relationship between the biological sciences and cities from the nineteenth-century onward as it is expressed in architecture, popular culture and case studies of contemporary insurgent practices, a case is made for posthuman urbanism as a significant concept for changing the meaning of urban space. It answers the question of how we can change ourselves to change the way we live with others, both human and non-human, in a rapidly urbanising world.

Birdsall, Carolyn
Nazi Soundscapes: Sound, Technology and Urban Space in Germany, 1933-1945
Amsterdam University Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-9-0896-4426-8

Many images of Nazi propaganda are universally recognizable, and symbolize the ways that the National Socialist party manipulated German citizens. What might an examination of the party’s various uses of sound reveal? In Nazi Soundscapes, Carolyn Birdsall offers an in-depth analysis of the cultural significance of sound and new technologies like radio and loudspeaker systems during the rise of the National Socialist party in the 1920s to the end of World War II. Focusing specifically on the urban soundscape of Düsseldorf, this study examines both the production and reception of sound-based propaganda in the public and private spheres. Birdsall provides a vivid account of sound as a key instrument of social control, exclusion, and violence during Nazi Germany, and she makes a persuasive case for the power of sound within modern urban history.

Ong, Aihwa
Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life
Duke University Press, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8223-6264-7

In Fungible Life Aihwa Ong explores the dynamic world of cutting-edge bioscience research, offering critical insights into the complex ways Asian bioscientific worlds and cosmopolitan sciences are entangled in a tropical environment brimming with the threat of emergent diseases. At biomedical centers in Singapore and China scientists map genetic variants, disease risks, and biomarkers, mobilizing ethnicized “Asian” bodies and health data for genomic research. Their differentiation between Chinese, Indian, and Malay DNA makes fungible Singapore’s ethnic-stratified databases that come to “represent” majority populations in Asia. By deploying genomic science as a public good, researchers reconfigure the relationships between objects, peoples, and spaces, thus rendering “Asia” itself as a shifting entity. In Ong’s analysis, Asia emerges as a richly layered mode of entanglements, where the population’s genetic pasts, anxieties and hopes, shared genetic weaknesses, and embattled genetic futures intersect. Furthermore, her illustration of the contrasting methods and goals of the Biopolis biomedical center in Singapore and BGI Genomics in China raises questions about the future direction of cosmopolitan science in Asia and beyond.

Palardy, Diana
The Dystopian Imagination in Contemporary Spanish Literature and Film
Palgrave Macmillan, 2018
ISBN: 978-3-319-92884-5

This study examines contemporary Spanish dystopian literature and films (in)directly related to the 2008 financial crisis from an urban cultural studies perspective. It explores culturally-charged landscapes that effectively convey the zeitgeist and reveal deep rooted anxieties about issues such as globalization, consumerism, immigration, speculation, precarity, and political resistance (particularly by Indignados [Indignant Ones] from the 15-M Movement). The book loosely traces the trajectory of the crisis, with the first part looking at texts that underscore some of the behaviors that indirectly contributed to the crisis, and the remaining chapters focusing on works that directly examine the crisis and its aftermath. This close reading of texts and films by Ray Loriga, Elia Barceló, Ion de Sosa, José Ardillo, David Llorente, Eduardo Vaquerizo, and Ricardo Menéndez Salmón offers insights into the creative ways that these authors and directors use spatial constructions to capture the dystopian imagination.

Davies, Dominic
Urban Comics: Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives
Routledge, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-1384-8358-3

Urban Comics: Infrastructure and the Global City in Contemporary Graphic Narratives makes an important and timely contribution both to comics studies and urban studies, offering a decolonisation and reconfiguration of both of these already interdisciplinary fields. With chapter-length discussions of comics from cities such as Cairo, Cape Town, New Orleans, Delhi and Beirut, this book shows how artistic collectives and urban social movements working across the global South are producing some of the most exciting and formally innovative graphic narratives of the contemporary moment. Throughout, the author reads an expansive range of graphic narratives through the vocabulary of urban studies to argue that these formal innovations should be thought of as a kind of infrastructure. This ‘infrastructural form’ allows urban comics to reveal that the built environments of our cities are not static, banal, or depoliticised, but rather highly charged material spaces that allow some forms of social life to exist while also prohibiting others. Built from a formal infrastructure of grids, gutters and panels, and capable of volumetric, multi-scalar perspectives, this book shows how urban comics are able to represent, repair and even rebuild contemporary global cities toward more socially just and sustainable ends. Operating at the intersection of comics studies and urban studies, and offering large global surveys alongside close textual and visual analyses, this book explores and opens up the fascinating relationship between comics and graphic narratives, on the one hand, and cities and urban spaces, on the other.

Gladwin, Derek
Ecological Exile: Spatial Injustice and Environmental Humanities
Routledge, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-1381-8968-3

Ecological Exile explores how contemporary literature, film, and media culture confront ecological crises through perspectives of spatial justice—a facet of social justice that looks at unjust circumstances as a phenomenon of space. Growing instances of flooding, population displacement, and pollution suggest an urgent need to re-examine the ways social and geographical spaces are perceived and valued in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Maintaining that ecological crises are largely socially produced, Derek Gladwin considers how British and Irish literary and visual texts by Ian McEwan, Sarah Gavron, Eavan Boland, John McGrath, and China Miéville, among others, respond to and confront various spatial injustices resulting from fossil fuel production and the effects of climate change. This ambitious book offers a new spatial perspective in the environmental humanities by focusing on what the philosopher Glenn Albrecht has termed ‘solastalgia’—a feeling of homesickness caused by environmental damage. The result of solastalgia is that people feel paradoxically ecologically exiled in the places they continue to live because of destructive environmental changes. Gladwin skilfully traces spatially produced instances of ecological injustice that literally and imaginatively abolish people’s sense of place (or place-home). By looking at two of the most pressing social and environmental concerns—oil and climate–Ecological Exile shows how literary and visual texts have documented spatially unjust effects of solastalgia. This interdisciplinary book will appeal to students, scholars, and professionals studying literary, film, and media texts that draw on environment and sustainability, cultural geography, energy cultures, climate change, and social justice.

Rothstein, Richard
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America
Liveright, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-6314-9453-6

In this groundbreaking history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, explodes the myth that America’s cities came to be racially divided through de facto segregation—that is, through individual prejudices, income differences, or the actions of private institutions like banks and real estate agencies. Rather, The Color of Law incontrovertibly makes clear that it was de jure segregation—the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, an federal governments—that actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day. Through extraordinary revelations and extensive research that Ta-Nehisi Coates has lauded as “brilliant” (The Atlantic), Rothstein comes to chronicle nothing less than an untold story that begins in the 1920s, showing how this process of de jure segregation began with explicit racial zoning, as millions of African Americans moved in a great historical migration from the south to the north. As Jane Jacobs established in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was the deeply flawed urban planning of the 1950s that created many of the impoverished neighborhoods we know. Now, Rothstein expands our understanding of this history, showing how government policies led to the creation of officially segregated public housing and the demolition of previously integrated neighborhoods. While urban areas rapidly deteriorated, the great American suburbanization of the post–World War II years was spurred on by federal subsidies for builders on the condition that no homes be sold to African Americans. Finally, Rothstein shows how police and prosecutors brutally upheld these standards by supporting violent resistance to black families in white neighborhoods. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited future discrimination but did nothing to reverse residential patterns that had become deeply embedded. Yet recent outbursts of violence in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, and Minneapolis show us precisely how the legacy of these earlier eras contributes to persistent racial unrest. “The American landscape will never look the same to readers of this important book” (Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund), as Rothstein’s invaluable examination shows that only by relearning this history can we finally pave the way for the nation to remedy its unconstitutional past.

Bruce, Caitlin Frances
Painting Publics: Transnational Legal Graffiti Scenes as Spaces for Encounter
Temple University Press, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4399-1445-8

Public art is a form of communication that enables spaces for encounters across differences. These encounters may be routine, repeated, or rare, but all take place in urban spaces infused with emotion, creativity, and experimentation. InPainting Publics, Caitlin Bruce explores how various legal graffiti scenes across the United States, Mexico, and Europe provide diverse ways for artists to navigate their changing relationships with publics, institutions, and commercial entities Painting Publics draws on a combination of interviews with more than 100 graffiti writers as well as participant observation, and uses critical and rhetorical theory to argue that graffiti should be seen as more than counter-cultural resistance. Bruce claims it offers resources for imagining a more democratic city, one that builds and grows from personal relations, abandoned or under-used spaces, commercial sponsorship, and tacit community resources. In the case of Mexico, Germany, and France, there is even some state support for the production and maintenance of civic education through visual culture. In her examination of graffiti culture and its spaces of inscription, Bruce allows us to see moments where practitioners actively reckon with possibility.

Carrier, Neil. and Tabea Scharrer, ed.
Mobile Urbanity: Somali Presence in Urban East Africa
Berghahn, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-78920-296-0

The increased presence of Somalis has brought much change to East African towns and cities in recent decades, change that has met with ambivalence and suspicion, especially within Kenya. This volume de- mystifies Somali residence and mobility in urban East Africa, showing its historical depth, and exploring the social, cultural and political underpinnings of Somali-led urban transformation. In so doing, it offers a vivid case study of the transformative power of (forced) migration on urban centres, and the intertwining of urbanity and mobility. The volume will be of interest for readers working in the broader field of migration, as well as anthropology and urban studies.

Zukin, Sharon. Philip Kasinitz and Xiangming Chen
Global Cities, Local Streets: Everyday Diversity from New York to Shanghai
Routledge, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-1380-2393-2

Global Cities, Local Streets: Everyday Diversity from New York to Shanghai, a cutting-edge text/ethnography, reports on the rapidly expanding field of global, urban studies through a unique pairing of six teams of urban researchers from around the world. The authors present shopping streets from each city—New York, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Berlin, Toronto, and Tokyo—how they have changed over the years, and how they illustrate globalization embedded in local communities. This is an ideal addition to courses in urbanization, consumption, and globalization. The book’s companion website, www.globalcitieslocalstreets.org, has additional videos, images, and maps, alongside a forum where students and instructors can post their own shopping street experiences.

July 14th, 2020

Nicholas Burman | An Eruption of Fragmentary Impressions: Exploring the Spectral Narrator in Martin Vaughn-James’ The Cage

33.1 Urban Studies

Abstract

More than an aesthetic depiction of ruins, Martin Vaughn-James’ 1975 comic The Cage alerts one to the possibility of an urban environment overwhelming a narrative agent. This article draws on The Cage’s narratological tactics as well as hauntology in order to read the narrator as a spectral presence. It posits that what this narrator depicts reflects what Marc Augé describes as “places of memory.” Finally, the article describes how a tear in the spectral narrator’s vision points to a crisis in perception. The Cage’s unnerving quality resides in how it reveals perception itself to be a cage, a frame that limits one’s understanding.

July 14th, 2020

N.F. Hartvelt | The Urban Intersection: Resisting Control in the City of Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

33.1 Urban Studies

Abstract

This article examines environmental storytelling in the 2016 video game Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, which is set in an urban control society. The article discusses the link between ‘the urban’ and ‘the control society,’ paying attention to the digital aspect of (urban) control mechanisms and how these (invisible) mechanisms are consequently represented in Catalyst. It argues that through parkour gameplay and emergent narratives—both of which are firmly rooted in the urban setting of the game—Catalyst allows the player both to imagine and enact resisting control, thereby furthering understanding of the representation of (resistance to) control in the smart city.

July 14th, 2020

Judith Naeff | Time, Space and Subaltern Phenomenology in the Documentary Film Essay Taste of Cement

33.1 Urban Studies

Abstract

This article analyses how the film essay Taste of Cement by Ziad Kalthoum portrays Syrian construction labourers in Lebanon. It shows that the film’s evocation of sensory experience makes two important contributions to the way we conceive of cities in general, and of post-civil war Beirut in particular. First, Taste of Cement succeeds in representing the workers as subaltern subjects without participating in their erasure. Second, the film presents a view that I call “oscillating urbanism,” thus challenging conventional narratives of (post-)conflict cities.

July 14th, 2020

Floris Paalman | An Ontology of City, Art, and Time: Plotting the Work of Fra Paalman

33.1 Urban Studies

Abstract

This article examines the artistic work and practice of Fra Paalman in order to rethink the relationship between art and the urban environment. It attempts to move away from the concept of urban art as capturing a fragment of a certain time and place in a city, given how such theoretical frameworks always imply a sort of ‘ideal city,’ or an imagined wholeness. Instead, Paalman’s art is explored for how the city becomes spatially integrated into, and temporally traversed by, the artwork, and vice versa. Through this, the article uses Paalman’s artwork to demonstrate how urban ontology is temporal, and acts as a composite and integration of various levels of experience.

July 14th, 2020

Daniela Vicherat Mattar | Public Space as a Border Space: Social Contention and Street Art in Santiago Post-18/O

33.1 Urban Studies

Abstract

In October 2019, massive demonstrations took place in the streets of Santiago, Chile. The demands were varied, addressing several aspects of the acute social inequalities that characterise Chilean society. Protests were met with a brutally violent response by the police forces deployed to control them. What was more difficult to regulate was the explosion of graffiti and street art that accompanied the social unrest. These mobilisations speak of the repolitisation of the civil sphere through the occupation of public spaces. In this article, I propose to look at the role public spaces have played in these events not only from the perspective of public spaces as sites of political encounter and counter-hegemonic mobilisations, but mostly as borders. I contend that public spaces act as material and symbolic borders where the struggles over practices of ordering and othering take place. By looking at the history of a square in Santiago’s city center—Plaza de la Dignidad—and a selection of the graffiti in its surroundings, I explore how the square acts as a border and, in doing so, enables an alternative spatial imagination that feeds new possible political and social orders.

July 14th, 2020

Simon Oxholm Roy and Jeff Diamanti | The Bifurcation of Amsterdam’s Terminals and Tourists: Urgenda and Beyond

33.1 Urban Studies

Abstract

This essay provides a visual and historical analysis of Amsterdam City and the terminal landscape of Westpoort in order to detail the aesthetic, discursive, and material entanglements of global logistics to the cultural imaginary of Amsterdam. By taking the recent victory of Stichting Urgenda over the interests of Dutch Petrocapital as a starting point, the essay suggests that while polity is beginning to shape environmental policy, the Port of Amsterdam continues to expand finance fueled fossil futures unabated. To explain why, archival and creative research generation is used to compare the Port of Amsterdam’s visual regime of energy storage and circulation in Westpoort to Amsterdam City’s post-industrial aesthetics.

July 14th, 2020

Kaixuan Yao and Max Casey | Foreword

33.1 Urban Studies

Titled “Perspectives of Urban Studies,” this issue of FRAME features articles that share in making apparent what is lying below the surface of urban existence. Through analyzing the spatial-visual-material regime of the city (Vicherat Mattar; Roy and Diamanti; Burman), and the cultural representation and artistic remediation of urban living (Naeff; Paalman; Hartvelt; Burman), these articles each posit a distinct perspective in understanding lived or represented urban phenomena.

July 14th, 2020