Turku Institute for Advanced Studies. Co-organized with SELMA, in cooperation with the Association for Literary Urban Studies.

Agora lecture hall XXII, University of Turku, 19 November 2018, 9:00h-17:30

This one-day symposium brings together researchers of future narratives from across disciplines. Its focus is on representations of city futures across a range of genres, from literary fiction to futures scenarios, policy, and urban planning. It aims to examine the language, narrative frames, and metaphors with which future cities are told, and the implications of such discursive strategies.

Please register by 12.11. via this link:


09.00-09.10 Welcome & introduction, Lieven Ameel, collegium researcher, TIAS

09.10-10.10 KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Paul Dobraszczyk

Paul Dobraszczyk is a teaching fellow at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London. His most recent book project is Future Cities, Architecture and the Imagination (Reaktion, 2019). He has published widely on visual culture and the built environment, with recent books including The Dead City: Urban Ruins and the Spectacle of Decay (IB Tauris, 2017); London’s Sewers (Shire, 2014); and Function & Fantasy: Iron Architecture in Long Nineteenth Century (Routledge, 2016). He is also a visual artist and photographer.


Forecasting to ensure the safety of society, Vesa Valtonen, Secretary General, Security Committee, Ministry of Defense   

Ecological city visions and their impact on the development of Chinese cities, Outi Luova, East Asian Studies, University of Turku

Zoning Versus Private Action: Planning Texts and Urban Futures in St Louis and Houston, 1910–1960, Jason Finch, English literature, Åbo Akademi University

Future visions of the region Kotka-Hamina, created during the planning of the master plan, Kaisa Granqvist, Urban Planning, Aalto University

11.45-13.00 LUNCH


Thirty Years of Imaginary Los Angeles. Climate Change and the Retrofitted Megalopolis in Blade Runner (1982) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017), Kimi Kärki, Cultural History, University of Turku

Reading for Ruins: On the Post-Apocalyptic Tense and Context, Jouni Teittinen, Comparative Literature, University of Turku

The flood of 1862 in Viennese humorous magazines: Jokes and cartoons about natural catastrophe as means of urban improvement, Heidi Hakkarainen, Cultural History, University of Turku              

Participatory design fiction and future cities, Johanna Ylipulli, cultural anthropology, Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies

14:30-15:00 COFFEE BREAK


Agency in Urbanizing Finland, Hanna Heino, Geography, University of Turku  

From co-creation to agency in urban futures, Kaisa Schmidt-Thomé, Demos Helsinki

Agency, Voices and Visions for Preferable Futures: Ethnographic research on the World Heritage Site Suomenlinna, Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti, The Finnish Literature Society Research Deparment

‘Small Island States and their Little Capitals: Lessons for Climate Resilience?’, Milla Vaha, International Relations/Political Philosophy, University of Turku

16.30-17.00 ROUNDTABLE

Methods, approaches and things ahead in Imagining City Futures across Disciplines



Organizer: Lieven Ameel / /

Travel and space – utopia as satirical travel narrative

Speaking today at the Travel and Space Seminar at the University of Helsinki, a seminar focusing on travel writing as non-fictional literary genre. Perspectives from linguistics, non-fiction writing, and literary studies.

I’ll be presenting a tentative talk on utopia as travel writing – and travel writing as utopia, with reference, in particular to E.E. Hale’s Sybaris (1869), a little-known utopian text that I looked at in some extent in my article ”Cities Utopian, Dystopic and Apocalyptic.”

The title of today’s talk is “Travel literature ad socio-critical satire: Everett Hale’s utopia Sybaris and other homes (1869)”.

The program of the seminar can be found here.


  • Ameel 2016: “Cities Utopian, Dystopic and Apocalyptic.” In Tambling, Jeremy: The Palgrave Handbook to Literature and the City.


Keskustelu Helsingin keskustan tulevaisuudesta 10.10.

Osallistun tänään klo 17-18 Kampissa paneelikeskusteluun Helsingin keskustan tulevaisuudesta.

Mikä on Helsingin keskustan tarina? Mikä voisi olla Helsingin keskustan tulevaisuus? Omassa tutkimuksessani Helsingin keskusta näyttäytyy merellisenä, monisyisenä ja  avoimena kohtaamisten tilana, jossa elinvoimainen julkinen tila mahdollistaa ideoiden, vieraiden, tuttujen, yllätysten yhteentörmäyksen.
[kuvan lähde:]

“Helsingin kaupunki haluaa rakentaa kaupunkilaisten kanssa yhteisen tahtotilan siitä, millaisen keskustan tarvitsemme tulevina vuosikymmeninä. Keskustan tulevaisuutta ideoidaan Narinkkatorilla ensi viikolla.

Helsingin keskusta kehittyy vauhdilla. Mitä tulevaisuuden keskustassa tehdään ja ketkä sitä käyttävät? Mistä syntyy kantakaupungin vetovoima vaikkapa nuorten, yritysten, asukkaiden tai turistien silmissä? Entä miten varaudumme ilmastonmuutokseen? Muun muassa näistä teemoista keskustellaan keskiviikosta perjantaihin 10.–12. lokakuuta Keskustaverstaassa Kampin Narinkkatorilla.”

Keskiviikko 10.10.2018: Ainutlaatuinen keskusta

17.00–18.00 Paneelikeskustelu: Identiteetti ja paikallisuus
Keskustelijat: tutkija Lieven Ameel, spoken word -artisti Ilja Lehtinen, kaupunkiaktivisti Saara Louhensalo, toiminnanjohtaja Rosa Salmivuori

Narrating the Urban Waterfront in Crisis – aims, outcomes, and why does it matter?

Presenting my research project on “Narrating the Urban Waterfront in Crisis” today (24.9.) at TIAS, University of Turku, which I started in January of this year. What are the aims, what are the projected outcomes, and why does it matter?

It was an eye-opener to go back to the application for TIAS I wrote in 2016, look at what I envisioned and promise then, and see how aims, objectives, and focus have changed during the past few years.

One aspect is the increasing urgency related to climate change, and a range of relevant articles related to contemporary (city) literature that came out recently.

And then there is also a range of relevant books that has come out, changing the outlook of my focus – in Finnish literature, ao. with the recent publication of Beta – Sensored Reality (2018) and in the case of NY, that of New York 2140.

And why does it matter – not only for an academic community, but also for a broader audience or professionals with the planning and policy community? In part, the answer lies in getting at a better understanding of how narratives in urban planning, policy, and literature of (future) cities are structured and used, which may impact the assessment of ongoing planning and policy practices, and more generally visions of urban futures. It also matters because different textual genres have different limits and different possibilities in how they are able to posit alternative futures – so what can be expected from particular textual genres, and are there more effective ways to communicate (city) futures? And finally, I see an importance in focusing on the language with which city futures are framed, positing the crisis of future challenges in terms of a ”crisis of the imagination”, but with a set of concrete case studies and narrative methods.


Pirkko Saisio’s Concrete Night (1981) and the suspect “realism” of the concrete high-rise suburb in literary fiction

I’m participating in the 21.9. ALUS symposium “Large-Scale Housing Projects as Productive Space in Literature and Culture” at the Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden.

I will present a paper on Pirkko Saisio’s Concrete Night (1981) and the suspect “realism” of the concrete high-rise suburb in literary fiction.

The starting point of my presentation is the observation that the novel has been widely read as a “realistic” depiction of the high-rise suburb, and consequently, as providing reliable insights into the supposed social and moral state of depravity in these environments. But a closer examination shows that this realism is far from accurate. The environments of the novel cannot be placed on any actual map of Helsinki, and most of the descriptions of the surroundings provide a reflection of a troubled, hypersensitive mind, rather than a detailed depiction of space. The evocation of the high-rise suburb thus has to be set against a complex cross-examination of the naturalist and symbolist undercurrents of the novel, as well as against the overall poetics and ethos at work in the oeuvre of Saisio.

Very much looking forward to the full program and to having a symposium in what promises to be a fascinating venue in an urban peripheral environment – the Tensta konsthall. Many thanks to Lydia Wistisen of Stockholm University for bringing this all together!

More information can be found here.

9.00–10.00 ALUS members meeting (closed)
10.00–10.15 Welcoming
10.15–10.45. Erik Stenberg & Erik Sigge (KTH Scool of Architecture): Structural Systems of the
Million Programme Era: People, Factories, and Housing
10.45–11.00 Coffee and refreshments
11.00–11.30 Lieven Ameel (University of Turku): Pirkko Saisio’s Concrete Night (1981) and the
Suspect “Realism” of the Concrete High-Rise Suburb in Literary Fiction
11.30–12.00 Caroline Merkel (Stockholm University): Suburbs as Creative Space in German
12.00–12.30 Hanna Henrysson (Uppsala University): The Hochhaus Experience: Coming of Age
in West Berlin’s Gropiusstadt
12.30–13.30 Lunch at Tensta konsthall
13.30–14.00 Jason Finch (Åbo Akademi University): Myth and Materiality in The Pruitt-Igoe
14.00–14.30 Alexander Scott (University of Wales Trinity St David): From “Corbusian
Piggeries” to “Toytown Cottages”: Urban Regeneration, Housing Policy and Responses to Post-War Modernism in 1980s Liverpool
14.30–15.00 Coffee and refreshments
15.00–15.30 Lydia Wistisen (Stockholm University): The Million Program in Swedish Teenage
15.30–16.00 Roundtable discussion
16.00–17.30 Showing of museum collections and walking tour
19.00– Dinner (for invited guests)

Kaupunkitutkimus jalkautuu Jätkäsaareen

Kaupunkitutkimus jalkautuu Jätkäsaareen, ja puhun tänään asuntomessutapahtumassa Jätkäsaaren suunnittelusta ja sen vaihtoehtoisista tarinoista – Jätkä-saari vai naisten kaupunki? Ja miksi kertomukset suunnittelussa ovat tärkeitä?

Aika: 3.-7.9.2018 klo 14:00-16:00
Paikka: Jätkäsaari-paviljonki, Hyväntoivonpuisto, Helsingin Jätkäsaaressa

“Millaista tutkimusta kaupungeista, asuinalueista, kortteleista ja meistä ihmisistä tehdään tällä hetkellä? Kaupunkitutkimus jalkautuu kortteliin -kokonaisuuksissa tutkijat esittelevät viimeisimpiä tutkimustuloksiaan lyhyissä, kansankielisissä esityksissään. Tapahtumapaikkana on Jätkäsaari-paviljonki. Tilaisuuksissa on mahdollisuus keskustella ja kysellä suoraan tutkijoilta. Tilaisuuksien jälkeen on mahdollisuus tavata tutkijoita.”

Puhun itse tänään (5.9.) omasta tutkimuksesta Jätkäsaaren suunnittelun ja kirjallisuuden kertomuksista klo 14-16:

Keskiviikko 5.9.2018 klo 14:00-16:00

Kertomukset, paikat ja historiat

“Kaupungit ovat kerroksellisia: sekä rakennettu ympäristö että paikkoihin liittyvät kertomukset, muistot, mielikuvat ja kokemukset ilmentävät menneisyyttä, nykyisyyttä ja tulevaisuutta. Tässä tilaisuudessa Helsingin, Tampereen ja Turun yliopistojen tutkijat kertovat kaupungeista dynaamisina paikkoina, joihin asukkaat ja toimijat liittävät omia merkityksiään.”


Asukkaat ja toimijat nykyistä, mennyttä ja tulevaa paikallisuutta määrittämässä
Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti, Turun yliopisto/Helsingin yliopisto, 1.8. alkaen Tampereen yliopisto

Jätkäsaari rakenteellisina kerrostumina – kolme näkökulmaa kaupunginosan kehitykseen
Matti Hannikainen, Helsingin yliopisto

Jätkäsaari vai Naisten kaupunki? Kuviteltu tuleva Jätkäsaari suunnittelussa ja kirjallisuudessa
Lieven Ameel, Turun yliopisto

Paluu perinteiseen urbaaniin kaupunkirakentamiseen Helsingin kaupunkisuunnittelussa?
Miika Norppa, Helsingin yliopisto

Saavutettavuustyökalut sopivien asuntojen etsinnässä
Henrikki Tenkanen, Helsingin yliopisto

Tutkijoiden esittelyt:

Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti on kulttuuriperinnön, erityisesti muistitiedon dosentti Turun yliopistossa sekä folkloristiikan dosentti Helsingin yliopistossa. Hän johtaa Elävä Suomenlinna -hanketta. Elokuun alusta alkaen hän toimii Tampereen yliopistossa yhteiskuntatieteiden tiedekunnassa yliopistotutkijana.

Matti Hannikainen on kaupunkihistorian tutkija Helsingin yliopistossa. Hän on tutkinut erityisesti Lontoon ja Helsingin historiaa.

Lieven Ameel on kaupunkitutkimuksen ja kaupunkisuunnittelun menetelmien dosentti Tampereen teknillisessä yliopistossa sekä vieraileva tutkija Turun yliopiston ihmistieteellisessä tutkijakollegiumissa.

Miika Norppa on kaupunkimaantieteen tutkija Geotieteiden ja maantieteen laitoksella Helsingin yliopistossa. Hän on tutkinut muun muassa eurooppalaisten kaupunkikeskustojen ja Helsingin kantakaupungin historiallista kehittymistä.

Henrikki Tenkanen työskentelee tutkijana Helsingin Yliopiston Digital Geography Labissa. Hän on kaupunkianalytiikkaan keskittyvän Mapple Oy:n perustajajäsen. Taustaltaan hän on maantieteestä väitellyt datatieteilijä, joka on innoissaan kaikesta liikkumiseen ja saavutettavuuteen liittyvistä kysymyksistä sekä teknologisista ratkaisuista, joilla voidaan tukea päätöksentekoa ja kaupunkisuunnittelua.

Palimpsest Cities at Aboagora

Speaking today (22.8.18) at Aboagora on Palimpsest Cities and the concept of burden in city literature.
Many thanks to Silja Laine and everyone at Aboagora for putting together our session and the rest of the excellent program!

I will be speaking a bit about commodity fetishism, the city as juggernaut, and the possibility of redemption in city literature, from The Great Gatsby to Riku Korhonen’s Kahden ja yhden yön tarinoita. Most of our session will be an open discussion with Jason Finch from Åbo Akademi, the Estonian author Jan Kaus, and myself.
I had the honour to meet Jan Kaus during an Association for Literary Urban Studies symposium in Tallinn – Jan Kaus is not only an inspiring literary author, he also has the rare gift to speak both eloquently and poetically about his own literary work and its relationship to cities.

Palimpsest cities: The past as burden and possibility in city literature
Lieven Ameel
Jason Finch
Jan Kaus

Every city carries the traces of its multiple pasts. Some of these are present on the surface in ruins or historic buildings which are visited by tourists. Some are hidden beneath newer buildings or revised road layouts. In this session two scholars of urban literature meet a creative writer preoccupied with his native city to discuss various aspects of burden and possibility in urban place. We approach the theme of this year’s Aboagora through the concept of palimpsest.
Originating in manuscript studies, the word palimpsest has a primary sense defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘a parchment or other writing surface on which the original text has been effaced or partially erased, and then overwritten by another; a manuscript in which later writing has been superimposed on earlier (effaced) writing’. In extended use, palimpsest means something ‘reused or altered while still retaining traces of its earlier form; a multilayered record’. In common with other writers and researchers, we see cities as sites containing many layers and retaining aspects of ‘earlier form’: as palimpsests.
The urban past contains multiple types of burden and possibility and we will introduce literary explorations of specific examples: Tallinn, Turku, and New York. The burden of the urban past can include the effort to comprehend past injustices or crimes, and acts that now seem shameful or unacceptable. The possibility this contains is a new ‘multilayered’ history that can include elements of conflict or radical change.

Contested Planning, Persuasive Storytelling – with James A. Throgmorton – 15.8., Helsinki

Ever since I began to be interested in the narrative structures in planning, I have been quoting, teaching, and using the work of James A. Throgmorton. Throgmorton’s texts on planning as a form of persuasive storytelling are still some of the most accessible and lucid reflections on the fundamentally narrative features of planning – and they remain part of the foundation of any narrative theory of planning.

(source: Chicago UP)

So I’m understandably exited to participate in the event “Contested Planning, Persuasive Storytelling”, with James A. Throgmorton, in Helsinki, 15.8. The event is organized by the Academy project SCENSLECO – “Strategic spatial planning with momentum gaining scenario storytelling: legitimacy contested?”, with ao. colleagues from the time when I was a visiting researcher at the YTK Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group at Aalto University.

I will present on metaphors in the planning of the New York waterfront, and in particular on how metaphorizations from The Great Gatsby have had a continuous influence on thinking of New York’s development.

More on my current research here – and on my publications here.

Examining City Futures in Literary Urban Studies – London 2 August 2018

Presenting today at the “Big Data and Urban Governance on the Margins of the City” workshop at King’s College, London. The workshop is part of a two-day kick-off of smart city / urban futures research projects. My presentation, “Metaphor into Matter: Examining City Futures in Literary Urban Studies”, looks at the use of metaphor in urban planning and policy. The aim is to use metaphor analysis to unpack rhetorical strategies in planning, and to bring into focus competing planning visions. I also argue that metaphor analysis can be applied not only an instrument for critical analysis, but also as tool for planning. There is considerable potential for a more conscious inclusion of metaphorizations of personal and communal relations to urban environments in PPGIS. Metaphor, and more broadly concepts from literary and narrative studies, can play a role in moving from quantitative “smart” technologies to more qualitative approaches.

I will examine the development of the Kalasatama district in Helsinki, with specific reference to Kalasatama’s smart city aspirations.

Many thanks to Ayona Datta and everyone at the research project for inviting me to participate!


I’m drawing in part on some earlier published work:

Ameel, Lieven 2016: “Emplotting urban regeneration: Narrative strategies in the case of Kalasatama, Helsinki.” DATUTOP 34. Re-City. Future City – combining disciplines., 222-240. 19 pages.


“‘Citiness’: Networks, Scales and Hierarchies in Literary Urban Studies”, Orientations 2018

Speaking today together with Jason Finch at the #Orientations2018 conference on narrative and place in Nottingham.

We’ll present some of the ideas that developed within the Association for Literary Urban Studies and in relation to work within the Palgrave series in literary urban studies. Our aim is to emphasize (in the context of literary fiction and literary urban studies) the concept of “citiness”: the elements that are specific to the city and the urban condition, and an awareness of what this “citiness” brings to the source material and what it implies in terms of methodological avenues of inquiry. One approach is to move from quantitative to more qualitative features of the (literary) city experience and, eventually, toward cutting across functional, inter-relational, and scalar complexities.