Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
Cities are now where more than half of humanity live and urban processes affect the whole globe. The pace of change and the complexity of urban lives is breathtaking. As such cities represent a crucial site to explore social and cultural change, and offer a powerful lens through which to explore questions which are central to the research agenda of CRESC. Cities concentrate difference, diversity and inequality where differences and divisions are manifest in material, social and symbolic ways. Urban politics and urban governance provide a window onto understanding wider national and international political and policy making processes. The uneven effects of capitalist processes are graphically visible in the sites and spaces of the city, while the unsustainability of growth poses testing questions to urban policy makers and political actors.
At a different level cities offer a key site for exploring the part that social methods play in actively shaping the world and the relations that we seek to describe and understand, providing new challenges for our attempts to understand and explain socio-cultural change. How we think about, and understand cities has implications for the strategies we deploy and the interventions that are made to ‘solve’ the problem identified and perceived. This, in turn, relates to the different technological, economic and material solutions that are seen as relevant at particular historical moments and at particular sites and places.
Our new focus on Urban Experiments thus looks at the ways in which research across CRESC draws on the dynamics of urban change to address our key research questions. The focus on cities as experimental spaces for research integrates work from across our various themes on (a) how social differences and inequalities are perceived, made public and re-ordered, and (b) the role of expert knowledges in mediating social change by attending to cultures, materialities, and mobilities/migration.
In the forthcoming year CRESC’s Urban Experiments will also seek to make strong links with the other Centres in the UK and internationally with a specific focus on cities. Our aim will be to develop our existing international networks and to direct attention to the ways in which urban experience and urban research are key sites for the articulation of contemporary social science research agendas.
Our three provisional research clusters
Urban culture is commonly used to draw attention to those aspects of city life that give it its distinct flavor and sensibility, a specific sense of place, an atmosphere, which might define one city as different from another, or which define the city in ways which are not reducible to the local economy or even the social mix of the people who live there. Urban cultures also refers to cultural practices performed in the spaces of the city- from music to art, theatre to film, as well as to those practices which relate to particular ethnic/cultural groups, be they religious or secular. Spaces and sites associated with urban cultural practices are enacted in both formal and informal ways, in spaces of the everyday or event spaces, visible in public spaces or hidden in marginal urban sites. Finally, urban cultures are also connected to the economy and commerce through different forms of commodification and cultural industries. CRESC research on cities touches on many of these different aspects of urban cultures.
- Dodsworth and Watson: Religious Cultures in London’s East End
- Rees-Leahy: Private Property and ‘National Heritage’: Art, Tax and the State
- Banks: Craft Labour and the Creative Industries
Typically in urban research the materiality of the city, the buildings, the infrastructure, the plethora of objects to be found in the street, the drains and pipes and all the other things that together make up the city, are figured as inert. Particularly for the engineer, constructing the city out of steel and pipes, wires, and concrete, but also for the planner and urban designer, ‘man’, as it were, makes the city, according to ‘his’ will. For the planner or urban designer the material city has been conceived as connected to the social through its potential to be manipulated, formed and reformed according to preconceived notions of the better good, meeting social needs and objectives as well as material ones.
However if we think of the social as an aggregation of individuals, then perhaps the city is no more than an aggregation of things - buildings, pipes, roads, signs, statues, parks, and canals - and their relations with people and animals. If so it is an aggregation that is always elusive for despite methods such as maps, surveys, photographs, and plans, 'it' cannot be visibly captured. But/and if the small always holds the key to the big , then perhaps we can see the city through an ordinary, everyday material object such as the park bench, allotment garden or lamp post. Rather than simplification, here we might find in such small entities a city richer in difference and complexity than the aggregate that we can only observe from far away.
Methodologically, what does it mean to know the city through its objects and what is the relation between this method and the city we seek to know? Rather than seeing objects and materials as inert, our interest in CRESC Urban Experiments is to conceive of urban objects as active forces in social engineering projects, assembling human relations and materialising markets. We are interested in how city objects assemble, materialise and act back upon social, spatial and economic relations of the city, and in the transformative potential of different materials and technologies deployed in urban spaces.
- Carter, Dodsworth, Ruppert and Watson: City Objects and Urban material forms: a different way of indexing urban cultures, publics and politics (working title).
- Evans : 2013 and Beyond: Materialising an Olympic Legacy in the East end of London
- Harvey and Knox: Roads to Development: Uneven Modernities and the Politics of Knowledge. An Ethnography of Road Building in Peru.
- Knox: Digital models and their publics- research on the construction and use of digital models in projects of urban change.
The idea of cities as a site of mobility draws attention to the mobility of people, of feelings and affect, of vehicles and capital, of commodities, of images and objects. It also figures the city as a space of bustle and stimulation across time and space and as a space of flows, networks and connections. In an era of ever faster processes of globalization and global flows, the transnational migrations and movements of people constitute cities as spaces of multi -cultures and heterogeneity. People are connected in a multiplicity of ways with their place of origin and their place of residence, networked across time and space in changing and shifting patterns. CRESC Urban experiments explores city mobilities in several of its projects.
- Ward: Imagining urban futures: the mobilisation and circulation of urban policies in the twenty first century.
- Watson and Saha ( non CRESC): Everyday multicultures and spaces of suburban London.
- Gillespie: Tuning in: Diasporic Contact Zones at BBC World Service
- Kaika, Swyngedouw, Watson and Keith (COMPAS, Oxford): eco-cities project exploring these as exemplary instances of contemporary public policy initiatives, with a focus on the diverse expertises and models of economic and social change that have emerged in Asia, Europe and the UK.
- Glick Schiller: The relationship between the migrant and the city
Below is a list of the projects run by this research theme. Click on the title of the project for more information.
Human beings are constituted of water. 75 % of men’s body mass and 68% of women’s body mass is made up water. The water content of the organic world of plants can be as high as 80%. We not only...
This project aims to compare the economic, social and cultural models of eco-city development in four international settings (China, the Gulf, India, and Europe). It will
This comparative international project explores street objects as devices for understanding city cultures, sociality and the formation of publics.
This project aims to explore socio-cultural and religious change through religious, buildings, sites and spaces of East London.
The project develops a methodology for studying city objects by investigating street bollards as socio-material practices that make up the city of London. I begin with posing a series of...
Below is a list of the publications produced by this research theme.
Refereed Journal Papers
Maria Kaika (2011), 'Autistic Architecture: The Fall of the Icon and the Rise of the Serial Object of Architecture', CRESC Working Paper 105.
Simon Carter, Francis Dodsworth, Evelyn Ruppert, Sophie Watson (2011), 'Thinking Cities Through Objects', CRESC Working Paper 096.
Below is a list of CRESC staff working on this research theme.
Affiliated Academic Members, Research Fellows
Affiliated Academic Members
Research Fellows, webmaster
Below is a list of the events organised by this research theme.
- Book Launch 'The Constitutionalization of the Global Corporate Sphere?' by Grahame Thompson : Wed, Jan 23rd 2013
- Seeing like a city, seeing like a neighbourhood, seeing like a firm: scales of urban citizenship : Wed, Dec 5th 2012
- A Sporting Chance: the legacies of mega-events for post-industrial British Cities : Wed, May 23rd 2012 - Thu, May 24th 2012
- Just Cities and Urban Rebalancing : Thu, Jan 26th 2012 - Fri, Jan 27th 2012
- Framing the City: the CRESC annual conference 2011 : Tue, Sep 6th 2011 - Fri, Sep 9th 2011
- How can the sporting legacy of the London 2012 Games deliver lasting change to the East End of London? : Wed, Mar 30th 2011
- CRESC Annual Lecture: Is Urban Sustainability Possible in the Age of Climate Justice? : Fri, Mar 4th 2011
Below is a list of the news items associated with this research item.
CRESC's Sophie Watson discussed David Harvey's new book Rebel Cities on BBC Radio 4's Thnking Allowed on Wednesday 4th July at 4.00.
CRESC and the Whitworth Art Gallery have joined forces to develop a programme of activities for Manchester schools in support of our 2012 annual conference, ‘Promises: Crisis and Socio-Cultural Change.’
‘Primary Promises’ involves 10 schools from the city in a summer of artistic activity, visits and workshops, which will culminate in an exhibition at ‘Promises’ in September.
The first event was held at the Whitworth on 2nd May, and involved teachers from local primary schools, the gallery’s artistic co-ordinators and CRESC staff working together to develop an activity pack for KS2 children on the theme of ‘A Vision of Future Manchester’.
The pack is inspired by two of the Whitworth’s current exhibitions. Firstly, Victor Pasmore: Transformations, is a series of abstract images by the influential British painter and architect that include the lush, impressionistic topography suggested by Il Labrinto della Psiche (1986) (above), and, secondly, Building on Things: Images of Ruin and Renewal which includes images such as ‘Tower of Babel’ by Anne Desmet, and work by Cyprian Gaillard and Giovanni Piranesi.
Over the weeks to come, children will be involved in devising maps and plans of the city of tomorrow, exploring the idea of urban promises and be invited to design their own ‘Promises Cube’ - a six-sided vision of Manchester’s future. The maps and finished cubes will be used to create a collaborative installation that represents the voices, visions – and promises - from children of the participating schools.
For more details contact: Mark Banks firstname.lastname@example.org
In the month of June Urban Experiments held its first two cross cutting theme workshops on city cultures and on city materialities. Stimulating discussion took place around a group of papers which at the City Cultures workshop included Michelle Bastian’s paper on ‘Transition Towns ‘, Mark Jayne’s paper on ‘Worlding a city: Twinning and urban theory’and Alban Webb’s discussion of cinematic representations of disaster threats to the city at the city cultures event. At the City Materialities workshop the papers included Francis Dodsworth and Sophie Watson’s paper on ‘Shaping Religious Community in East London’ and Evelyn Ruppert’s discussion of 'Methodological Experiments' illustrated by her bollards project, while others described their new research projects.
Over 25 members in total attended from across the CRESC research themes, and new connections and synergies in urban research began to emerge. We are pleased to see that the new Urban Experiments ‘experiment’ is now fully launched following the annual lecture by Professor Andrew Ross on ‘Is Urban Sustainability possible in the Age of Climate Justice’, the launch of the New Companion to the City (edited by Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson), to which many CRESC members contributed chapters, and we look forward to developing more connections and research agendas at the cross theme CRESC Annual Conference on ‘Framing the City’ in September. Three new CRESC working papers from Urban Experiments have also been published in recent months.
The New Blackwell Companion to the City, edited by Gary Bridge and CRESC's Sophie Watson is reviewed in today's Observer by architecture critic, Rowan Moore, todether wth Living in the Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic. 'Certain themes', notes Moore, 'emerge from both books, such as a suspicion for simple over-arching solutions, horror at inequality and division, support for intelligent public transport systems over super-highways driven through poor neighbourhoods.' For further details of the book click here.
CRESC ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2011: ‘FRAMING THE CITY’
CREATIVE WRITING COMPETITION
Call for Entries
CRESC and the Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester are pleased to announce a juried creative writing competition to accompany the CRESC annual conference to be held at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester in September 2011.
Prizes of £100 and £50 for first and 2nd places will be awarded to winning entries of up to 1500 words, which best capture the conference theme – Framing the City – and focus on the nature of change in the city of Manchester. Winning entries will also be published exclusively in the Centre for New Writing’s online magazine – The Manchester Review: http://www.themanchesterreview.co.uk/
Entries will be judged by a panel from the conference committee, the Centre for New Writing and editor of the Manchester Review. Winners will be announced at the conference opening ceremony on the 6th September 2011 and receive a signed copy of either Ian McEwan’s ‘Solar’ or Martin Amis’s ‘Pregnant Widow’.
Deadline for entries 6th August 2011.
Entries (limited to one entry per person) may be submiited via email to the CRESC Conference writing competition address at: email@example.com
Please note that CRESC reserves the right to withdraw the competition should there be insufficient entries.
The CRESC Framing the City conference aims to scrutinise the processes by which cities are conceptualised, realised, lived and contested. For more information about the conference go to: http://www.cresc.ac.uk/events/cresc-annual-conference
We would like first of all to offer all those who took part in this year's first ever CRESC Photography Competition our very sincere thanks. The standard was incredibly high and we were surprised at the sheer volume of entries we received. Having said this, we did feel that two photographs in particular most closely matched the brief and these were Wing Yin Chan's 'Ordinary morning in Spring' and Adam Swann's 'Bolton Ex-Victoria Mill'. Congratulations to both photographers on capturing such wonerful images, we look forward to meeting both at the opening of the CRESC Annual Conference on 6th September 2011.
Wing Yin Chan - 'Ordinary morning in Spring' (1st Prize)
Isle of Dogs, the East End peninsula of London, is one of the most divided districts in our capital. While the affluent, glamorous banking area Canary Wharf is merely 10 minutes walk away, life is close to the bread line behind these poorly-insulated windows. Many struggle silently, day after day.
Having the district as its backdrop, this image captures an ordinary moment of minimal urban life. It aims to serve as a reminder of the social divide in our society, an inconvenient truth we can no longer afford to deny.
‘Bolton ex-Victoria Mill’ by Adam Swann (2nd Prize)
This is the only remaining part of Victoria Mill, Horwich near Bolton, Lancashire, built in 1903-04. The mill was operated by W T Taylor (1848-1925) who were the “the largest manufacturer of towels in the British Empire” and the second largest worldwide. The mill remained in use until 2007 when it was demolished and the doorway still stands on its own.
I did not know about the mill and its history when I passed it in February 2008 and stopped the car to take this picture. Inside the doorway of the ex-mill, the fading orange afternoon light evokes a human presence and the activity happening within the now demolished walls in times gone by. In the distant background the Reebok football Stadium in Bolton marks the contrast between the new and the old, showing what comes to replace grand old mills like this one when they are sadly gone.
The winning entrants will:
- have their work published in the prestigious online magazine Manchester Review
- have their work featured on the CRESC FRAMING THE CITY conference brochure (1st prize, front cover; 2nd prize, back cover)
- receive a collectors’ item hardback copy of the work of photographer Stephen Gill
- receive a cash prize (1st prize £100; 2nd prize £50)
- have their work displayed at the Royal Northern College of Music during the conference
- attend a prize giving at the conference opening ceremony on 6th September
Copyright of winning photographs remains with the prize winners and use of the photographs will be limited to the conference brochure, display during the conference and publication in the Manchester Review as per the conditions of the Creative Commons Licence.
The annual CRESC lecture at SOAS in London given by Professor Andrew Ross from New York University attracted an audience of around 100 people from across the UK. Andrew Ross, who is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and author of many publications including:
- Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times (NYPress, 2009).
- Fast Boat to China: Corporate Flight and the Consequences of Free Trade-Lessons from Shanghai (Pantheon, 2006; Vintage, 2007).
Professor Ross gave a lecture entitled : Is Urban Sustainability possible in the Age of Climate Justice? Ross’ lecture provided a clear overview and critique of the different positions and politics of environmental social theory and politics. Through the notion of middle class environmental apartheid- ‘eco-apartheid’- he subjected current eco initiatives to close scrutiny and critique. Drawing on an ethnography of arguably one of the most environmentally damaged cities of the USA- Phoenix, he exposed the serious implications of extremely rapid urban and suburban growth, and the failure of market and governmental responses to it. Though largely a pessimistic account he concluded with identifying nodal points where positive changes and initiatives might occur in such spaces of environmental degradation. Notable here were the responses and involvement of the local indigenous community in water issues.
Following the lecture Professor Stuart Hall launched the New Blackwell Companion to the Cityedited by Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson. He commended the breadth and range of the book which comprises 65 newly commissioned essays including 6 essays of reflections by the authors. The volume also comprises contributions from 10 CRESC researchers and affiliates.
During his talk Professor Hall described the contents of the six sections: City Materialities, City Mobilities, City Affect, City Divisions and Differences, City Publics and Cultures, and City Politics and Planning, and drew attention to the international range and scope of the essays, particularly the engagement with urban questions in China and India. Hall’s view of the book chimed very strongly with the concerns of CRESC, when he commended the vigorous interdisciplinarity of the project, at the same time as stressing the importance of the different traditions- sociology, history, cultural studies, geography, and political economy- from which it draws. Hall identified the urban turn as an important feature of recent work in social and cultural theory and interdisciplinary study, which, although not his own central concern, he could see provided a valuable lens through which to explore socio-cultural change.