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CFP: Urban Mediations: International Conference on the Narratives, Ecologies, and Poetics of the City (Deadline: 5/15/2024)

Urban Mediations
City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, 5 December 2024
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Sha Tin, 6 December 2024

Proposals due: 15 May 2024

This international, interdisciplinary conference aims to uncover emergent frameworks and methods for the interpretation and analysis of literary, filmic, and cultural texts relating to the profound transformation of cities around the world across the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

The starting point for discussion is cities in Asia and their dialogues with different cities in the world. While “urban” typically denotes a geographical location and its inhabitants, this conference uses it to indicate a process and practice of co-existence. The urban, in this sense, is informed by socio-cultural, economic, ecological, political, and technological processes that may appear or aspire to be global but that are, in fact, diversely lived and experienced.

The framework “urban mediations” offers a way of thinking about "the urban” not as a bounded, stable object, but as an intermediary agency that is both specific to a particular milieu and connected to people and processes elsewhere. “Mediation” extends recent work on urban infrastructure – the physical systems of connectivity that keep cities moving – to include the social, affective, aesthetic, and material relations that bind the urban to itself and to myriad elsewheres. For Lauren Berlant (2022: 22), infrastructure “is another way of talking about mediation—but always as a material process of binding, never merely as a material technology, aesthetic genre, form, or norm that achieves something.” Like the urban, mediation “is not a stable thing but a way of seeing the unstable relations among dynamically related things.”

The organizers are looking for papers that address the following questions:

  • How might literary works, film, architecture, and other poetic practices mediate, negotiate, or interrogate urban relations and the built environment?
  • How can creative and critical practices reveal, mediate, or challenge various forms of inequalities and respond to questions surrounding gender, race, religion, class, labour, and humans’ relationship with animals and nature?
  • How can microhistories of cities, municipalities, districts, and neighborhoods offer a more nuanced view of specific milieux or challenge grand narratives of development and globalisation?
  • In what ways do cities narrate themselves? What stories can be read in the topography, design, and composition of their built environments?
  • How do imagination and memory shape and mediate the urban experience, or re-create the materiality of the cityscape?
  • How have colonialism’s cultural and historical legacies shaped the urban form and the environmental conditions of cities?
  • How might “archipelagic thinking” reconfigure how we imagine urban regions characterised by city clusters or interconnected metropolitan centres?
  • How do imaginaries of failed or fragile infrastructures reveal fissures in a world system built on the uninterrupted flow of capital, bodies, and goods?
  • How might an expanded understanding of infrastructure – not simply as a physical system of connectivity and flow but as the affective, aesthetic, and material relations that bind together social life – enable new conceptualisations of the urban?
  • How might feminist and queer literatures, films, and artistic works challenge the masculinist and heteronormative assumptions inherent in dominant frameworks of migration, economic development, and the urban?
  • How might we rethink our participation in the technological assemblages that comprise urban life and that mediate our access to the city, to other inhabitants, and to places elsewhere?

Kindly send a proposal with a 400-500-word abstract and a one-page CV to urbanmediations24@gmail.com by 15 May 2024. As the goal is to produce an edited volume, accepted papers are expected to represent new, unpublished work.

The full CFP can be found on the conference's website: https://urbannarrativesnetwork.com/urban-mediations-2024

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