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Abstract

In studying the exemplary case of Malmö, this paper is concerned with the process of change typical of that of many European cities, in which high-tech and knowledge-intensive activities are replacing the old, traditional industrial structure. It has been claimed that what is happening to this second-tier city is nothing but a ‘gigantic social experiment’ attempted by local policy-makers through the conscious implementation of a series of infrastructural and community development programmes. However, this paper argues that this idea of a ‘re-branding by policy design’ of Malmö is somewhat misleading and that instead an ‘accidental’ form of branding may be at work in the city. By examining key infrastructural projects and the associated effects these have had on the image of the city over the past decade, the author argues that the new profile and the regional position claimed by Malmö are the result of a new and unique ‘trial and error’ form of managing identity and change.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

This volume brings together a collection of essays, most of which were presented at the ‘Urban Mindscapes of Europe’ conference at De Montfort University in Leicester on 29 April 2004. At the centre of the volume is an encounter between explorations of urban mindscapes, and their application to urban policy generally, and more specifically to city marketing and tourism promotion. This introductory essay provides an overview of the concepts of ‘urban mindscape’ and ‘urban imaginary’, and of a selection of key themes emerging from the contributions to the book. It ends with a discussion of a range of issues for further research and for policy-making.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

In the wider interest of demonstrating the impact of city myths on urban mindscapes, this paper considers the example of the comparatively young European metropolis Berlin and shows how the city’s myth as ‘eternal colonial and pioneer city’ has impacted on literature, journalism, city marketing and city development. The four main image, development and city marketing strategies (‘New Berlin’, ‘Berlin – Open City’, ‘Schaustelle Berlin’, ‘Young Berlin’) of the first decade after the city’s reunification, e. g. the 1990s, are the focus of critical reflection and will be considered in their practical implementation.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

This article is based on an analysis of television coverage of seven very high-profile recent royal events across Western Europe: six weddings (in Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark) as well as the funeral of Princess Diana. Using the concepts of mega-event, media event and liminal event, it examines how official narratives attempt to transform the city into a magical space characterised by a fusion of past and present, a process accompanied by the often highly filmic presentation of ‘ancient’ buildings (cathedrals, town halls, palaces etc.) and the careful avoidance of inappropriate localities and symbols. It also examines the increasing trend towards marketing such cities televisually as desirable tourist locations. The article finishes by arguing that, alongside this official narrative of the city as a site of material and symbolic authority, the crowd present at such events often transforms them in turn into a site of carnival, thereby raising questions as to the ideological efficacy of that narrative.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe
The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture
Editors: Gerry Smyth and Jo Croft
Space has emerged in recent years as a radical category in a range of related disciplines across the humanities. Of the many possible applications of this new interest, some of the most exciting and challenging have addressed the issue of domestic architecture and its function as a space for both the dramatisation and the negotiation of a cluster of highly salient issues concerning, amongst other things, belonging and exclusion, fear and desire, identity and difference.
Our House is a cross-disciplinary collection of essays taking as its focus both the prospect and the possibility of ‘the house’. This latter term is taken in its broadest possible resonance, encompassing everything from the great houses so beloved of nineteenth-century English novelists to the caravans and mobile homes of the latterday travelling community, and all points in between. The essays are written by a combination of established and emerging scholars, working in a variety of scholarly disciplines, including literary criticism, sociology, cultural studies, history, popular music, and architecture. No specific school or theory predominates, although the work of two key figures – Gaston Bachelard and Martin Heidegger – is engaged throughout.
This collection engages with a number of key issues raised by the increasingly troubled relationship between the cultural (built) and natural environments in the contemporary world.
In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

This chapter identifies the ways in which the Athenian polis is conceptualised as both a cultural site and as the origin of democratic practices. The Acropolis and its environs is often presented as the embodiment of an ‘ideal’ city-state, a tradition which persists in museum guides, photographic studies, archaeological reports and European ‘mediascapes’ in general. The dominant notion of a cultured demokratia, inseparable from the physical site of the Parthenon and other monuments, has its origins in ancient literary sources. Adherence to this tradition tends, therefore, to obscure other aspects of Athenian history, including the imperial character of its fifth century dominance, the political and military symbolism of its building programme, and the fact that a polis did not necessarily have to be linked to a particular physical domain. The major part of the enquiry is focussed, however, on those modern interpretations which draw attention to the cultural significance of the Acropolis as both a physical site and an urban ‘imaginary’.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

Place, locality and urban resistance have been neglected in studies of globalisation. Urban imaginaries are the symbolic sphere in which space and places are contested. They project unconscious social desires and construct imaginary social alternatives which form part of a long utopian tradition. Even though the visual and virtual predominates in modern media, the assertion of bodily practices in contemporary art underlies the continuing importance of face-to-face experience in the public sphere. Memory plays an important role in framing urban imaginaries, because it is constructed in the present. Consequently, struggles around memorials, museums and the built environment embook-body different visions of the meaning, history and identity of a place. Cities should draw on the diversity of social perspectives through research on citizens’ narratives to forge a more democratic, pluralist and inclusive urban imaginary.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between H.G. Wells’s early futuristic fictions and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926) – and condsiders their influences on the mindscapes of European cities. Despite Wells’s disowning of his own influence on Lang’s method and themes in his review of the film, Metropolis has reworked Wells’s early ideas in a complex way. Sleeper and other early texts project the possibilities of sound and image recording into totally urbanised, managerial societies. In them, the city’s public and private spaces are saturated with technologically advanced systems of marketing and/or panoptic surveillance and control. Wells’s early insights into the construction of the urban future and of future consumers are astonishingly prescient. Lang crucially took up the self-conscious visuality of Wells’s early critique of the media-controlled city in the meta-cinematic tropes of his own film. He also extended Wellsian notions of economic caste and urban alienation (though arguably missing the crucial importance of mass consumption).

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe

Abstract

The history of the modern European public museum is closely related to the history of the urban built environment and its symbolic meaning. Thus, it is not surprising that contemporary town planning has used the establishment of new museums as flagships for urban regeneration. While architectural and tourism interest as well as museological and geographical research has focused on the spectacular modern art museums such as the new Tate Galleries or the Guggenheim Museums (most recent, Giebelshausen 2003), a closer look at the developments in Liverpool and Berlin shows that the local museums with their immediate interest in the welfare of the local community can have a stronger and lasting impact on the real and mental cityscape. In these two very different European cities, the post-industrial condition and the impact of global developments make the museums important features in the building and negotiating of local identity.

In: Urban Mindscapes of Europe