I’m delighted to be co-convening a stream at the London Conference in Critical Thought to be held at London South Bank University on the 30th June and the 1st July. The strand is entitled the Vernacular Aesthetics of the Global City (no less) and I’ll be working with artist duo Lloyd Corporation.
The conference is geared towards early career researchers as well as postgraduate researchers and the conference “is an inter-institutional, non-hierarchal, and accessible event that makes a particular effort to embrace emergent thought and the participation of emerging academics, fostering new avenues for critically-oriented scholarship and collaboration.”
There will be some really interesting sounding streams at the conference, please do look at the call for papers if you are interested. The cfp for our strand is as follows (deadline 31st March):
This stream proposes to generate a critical debate around questions of ‘vernacular aesthetics’ in academic research on the global city and particularly invites contributions from those working on new propositions for interdisciplinary, inventive or artistic approaches to its study.
Recent research on the global city has sought to understand the contemporary state of rapid urbanisation, migration and development by focusing attention towards the ‘ordinary’ commercial street (Hall, 2015; Zukin, Kasinitz & Chen, 2016). A key part of this work has included visual investigations of the vernacular aesthetics of urban streets in ‘super-diverse’ cities like London, in an attempt to represent the informal economies and practices routinely ignored, deemed undesirable and/or dispensable to private and bureaucratic agendas of urban (re)development. Projects such as LSE’s ‘Ordinary Streets’ (2011-13) have produced ethnographic explorations of streets elaborating the need for: the production of new vocabularies of value; mapping of ‘creative’ practices of socio-economic adaption to urban space; reframing urban informality as social and civic platforms for economic and cultural life as opposed to ‘under-developed’ spaces of poverty.
For artist duo Lloyd Corporation and UEL researcher and artist Sophie Barr, the ‘ordinary street’ has been a key site of research and artistic production. This has led to a recently initiated dialogue sharing questions, curiosities, inspirations and anxieties in the explorations of vernacular aesthetics. By hosting a stream we aspire towards bringing other voices into a discussion that seeks to both build upon but also deepen and challenge questions of vernacular aesthetics in the study of spaces and cultures of ‘street’.
We ask what new kinds of sociological, ethnographic and artistic modes of practice are required to develop multi-sensory understandings of such phenomena if we are to produce rich new vocabularies of value and representation? Presently there seems to be an overreliance on the documentary image as the visual extent of ethnographic exploration and so we ask what does this miss? How might we capture the non-representational, the affective, the transient, temporal and mobile, the hidden, unseen, imaginary or background dimensions of the street? Further, we might ask whether the ‘street’ presents an adequate vantage point from which to observe the complex spatial and temporal connections of hyper-globalised urban spaces, particularly in light of the ever pervasive effects of digital cultures and infrastructures?
What problematic power relationships arise in the research of vernacular aesthetics? Can we eliminate the risk of ‘othering’ informal cultures or exoticising notions of migrant adaptation and improvisation? How might we challenge or reflect on the class, gender and racial privileges that underpin the ‘study’
informal, precarious, cultures? And finally, given the increasing conflicts and volatility over the redevelopment of public space and processes of gentrification, how does this research agenda become active, politically mobilised and collaborative with the diverse communities it seeks to represent?
We are open to all manner of submissions including papers, performances, artworks and we welcome a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds.