2014 Symposium

Spatial Histories, Constructs and Practices: Trajectories and Strategies of the North American City, Ruhr-University Bochum, March 27-28, 2014

Recent trends in globalization, transnationalism, changing migration patterns, and socio-economic vicissitudes have significantly transformed North American urban landscapes and the ways in which we have come to perceive, understand, practice and express these diverse forms of spatiality. The sheer complexity of urban processes and configurations, from built environment and uses of spaces, social production of spaces, cultural practices, ecological alterations, urban imaginaries to their interrelations across the globe, call for multi-disciplinary investigations to describe and better comprehend the breadths and depths of these urban developments.
This international conference, held as part of the MERCUR project “Spaces – Communities – Representations: Urban Transformations in the USA”, a joint American Studies doctoral program by the Universities of Bochum, Dortmund, and Duisburg-Essen, aims to bring together an international panel of scholars and doctoral students from various disciplines to address these exigent issues, conceptualize strategies and develop new perspectives on urban transformations and spatial production in North American cities.
Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to:

  • Language, literature, story-telling in the production of spaces
  • The struggle for the city: urban uprisings, racial riots, and social movements such as Occupy
  • Strategies in which ‘minority’ histories are inscribed and read in space (e.g. architectural structures, design, localities, etc.)
  • Perceptual geographies such as soundscapes and affective spaces
  • Difference and divisions: gendered space, ethnicity, ‘peripheral’ spaces of the city, suburbanization, etc.
  • Urban imaginary and popular depictions of North American cities
  • Urban ecology
  • Manifestations of globalization and transnationalism within North American cityscapes
  • Urban processes of the city such as ghettoization, gentrification, and urban developments of post-industrial cities
  • Spatialized histories
  • Mobility/Immobility
  • Modern, Post-modern cities
  • Various expressions of the city in art, theatre, music

Downloadable PDF of the Call for Papers
Downloadable PDF of the Conference Poster


March 27, Thursday

8:45 Welcome: Selma Bidlingmaier and Kathrin Muschalik

9:00 Literary Cartographies

Chair: Michael Wala Thomas Heise Mapping Chinatown: Ethnic Infighting, Globalized Labor, and the Crime Novels of Henry Chang Selma Bidlingmaier Everyday Culinary Chinatown: Food and the Spatial Politics of the Cold War Utku Mogultay The Urban Frontier in Pynchon's Against the Day

11:00 Coffee Break

11:15 Gender, Ethnicity, Class and the City I

Chair: Randi Gunzenhauser Anke Ortlepp Women and the City: Exploring the Intersections of Gender, Space, and Ethnicity Insa Neumann Culinary Community. Constructing Germanness in New York City in the 1950s

12:45 Lunch

2:00 Gender, Ethnicity, Class and the City II

Chair: Barbara Buchenau Britta Waldschmidt-Nelson A Dream Deferred? The Situation of African Americans 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act Kathrin Muschalik "This is the ugly other side of America" - The L.A. Times' news coverage of the Los Angeles riots

3:30 Coffee Break

3:45 (Sub)Urban America

Chair: Walter Grünzweig Gary Scales Filling Space: The Gas Station in Urban America Paige Glotzer Building Suburban Power

5:45 Drinks at Livingroom (Networking sessions)

March 28, Friday

10:00 Urban Life Cycles

Chair: Jens Gurr Jon Hegglund Urban Geologies: From Settlement to Sediment Nick Bacon Urban Podunkification and the Reproduction of Placelessness in American Secondary Cities

11:30 Coffee Break

11:45 Travel Writing

Chair: Josef Raab Hagen Schultz-Forberg Spatio-temporal Sense-making in Urban Travel Writing Erika Miko Temporal Experience in Hungarian Travel Writing on New York

1:15 Lunch

2:30 Urban (Trans)formations

Chair: Kornelia Freitag Mabel O. Wilson Reconceptualizing the Projects Faye Guenther What to Do with Freedom: Queer Space and Queer Visibility in the Work of David Wojnarowicz Tazalika te Reh Transforming Space

4:30 Coffee Break

4:45 Wrap-up

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