Culture & sustainability in focus in the upcoming conference “Culture(s) in Sustainable Futures” in Helsinki, 6-8 May 2015.
Perhaps surprisingly (from the perspective of my own, urban-biased view on cultural sustainable development), there is a suspicuous absence of urban issues in most of the programme, regardless of the many examples and possibilities in current urban developments.
There are some sessions and several papers, however, involving urban cases, for example session 6. “Operationalizing culture in the sustainable development of cities.”
Currently working on the interplay between literary (and more broadly, cultural) studies and urban studies, I came across Sharon Zukin’s “The Postmodern Invasion”, which takes stock of three key books that chart relationships between the city, city literature, and socio-economic writings of the city: City of Quartz, The Conscience of the eye, and The Sphinx in the city. All three draw on “a rapprochement between cultural studies and urban political economy” in the 1980s, which tended to focus on “cities as cultural artefacts”. One of the points that comes out of this rapprochement is the crucial resonance, in (then) recent studies of Paris, Vienna and Berlin, between “symbols, space, and social power”. Few today would call Mike Davis, Richard Sennett or Elizabeth Wilson “urban hipsters”, although Zukin’s classification of these authors as flâneurs and moral philosophers does ring true. With hindsight, Zukin’s reading of Sennett is perhaps a bit too harsh (I find The Conscience of the eye still refreshing reading two decades later), but the importance of an interplay between cultural studies and socio-economic studies of the city which she discerns remains of indiminished importance.
Zukin, Sharon. (1992). The postmodern invasion. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 16(3), 489-495.
Tomorrow, presentation of our Helsinki University research project on urban layers of meaning on 8 April 2015, at the Think Corner / Tiedekulma. I will be talking about visions and narratives of Helsinki’s waterfront development. Samu Nyström will introduce the research project, Mikko-Olavi Seppälä will discuss 1920s urban culture and identity in Helsinki.
More on my research of Helsinki’s waterfront here.
Update: the video of the presentation can be viewed here. The first part consist of a presentation by prof. Seppälä, the second part, with my presentation on Kalasatama & Jätkäsaari, begins at 36:25. Presentation in Finnish.