Archive for November, 2009

Imagining urban cataclysm

Monday, November 16th, 2009
On Thursday and Friday (19th & 20th November) I will be at the World Politics and Popular Culture conference organised by Newcastle University Politics staff Simon Philpott, Matt Davies and Kyle Grayson. The conference will explore the manner in which

popular culture become[s] a series of sites at which political meaning is made, where political contestation takes place and where political orthodoxy is reproduced and challenged

I will be giving a paper entitled Zombies and flesh eaters: imagining urban cataclysm in the era of metropolitanisation.

The paper will discuss the relation between the politics of global urbanisation and representations of urban cataclysm in the film 28 Days Later, video game Resident Evil; and Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road. I argue that novels, films and games are textual artefacts embedded in complex assemblages of things, signs, meanings and affects. As such they are mutually imbricated with the dynamics of delineation and contestation we refer to as ‘politics’.

The paper discusses two particular ideas arising from a reading of these texts:

28 Days Later Poster
The Road

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Anniversaries of urban destruction: Berlin & Mostar

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Yesterday marked two important anniversaries for the destruction of urban fabric. On the one hand there were prominent commemoration ceremonies to mark the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. 9th November 1989 was the date on which border security was eased and freedom of movement across the wall was allowed. 9th November thus marks the date on which the wall’s dividing power – ostensibly the purpose that gave the structure meaning – ended. It is thus the anniversary of a symbolic destruction. (more…)

Radicalisation and the urban environnment

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Mirror_mediator_flyerToday sees the opening of an exhibition based on the ESRC-funded research project The urban environment: Mirror and mediator of radicalisation? The exhibition has an excellent website outlining the various strands in the research project: www.urbanpolarisation.org

The project is based at the University of Manchester and Ralf Brand is the principle investigator (with Jon Coaffee as co-investigator and Sara Fregonese as Research Assistant). Overall the aim of the project is to explore the interrelation between the urban environment and  socio-political polarisation. Polarisation is assumed to have links with political violence (including radicalisation). You can read more about the project here.
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Disrupted Cities

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Routledge have recently published an interesting volume on urban infrastructure. Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructure Fails, edited by Stephen Graham explores various cases in which infrastructure fails, revealing the extent to which contemporary urban life is predicated on technical structures.

It should be of interest to those exploring the nexus of violence, urbanisation and critical infrastructure.

Click on the book cover on the left to see contents and read an extract

A flyer giving 20% discount on the book can be downloaded here.