[URBANTH-L] Papers sought for AAA panel: Center, Symbol, Site: Reexamining Downtown

Marina Peterson mlpeters at uchicago.edu
Wed Feb 16 20:03:26 EST 2005

We're looking for additional panelists for a AAA panel on "downtown" 
(abstract is below).  Geographic area is open.  Please send us 
abstracts by February 20 .

Thank you,
Marina Peterson (mlpeters at uchicago.edu)
Sareeta Amrute (sbamrute at uchicago.edu)


Center, Symbol, Site: Reexamining Downtown

This panel will focus on one aspect of the city - the downtown or
city center - in the context of translocal social and capital
flows.  As a concept that seems to belong to an older idea of the
urban landscape the downtown demands reexamination in light of over
a decade of research on how global, transnational processes become
localized in cities.  We invite participants to utilize the
downtown as a point of departure from which to rethink the place of
existing urban geographic labels, reassess the stability of such
categories and places in a translocal context, and reflect on their
role in the production of contemporary global or mega-cities.

Does the term downtown as a geographic descriptor of urban space
apply to cities that are growing exponentially and to cities whose
parts may be unevenly linked to transnational networks?  How does
the recent emphasis, through planning, development, and marketing,
on urban downtowns help constitute the global or mega-city?  Do
these developments mark a departure in the nature of the downtown
and the urban?  By reexamining the downtown, this panel seeks to
explore how the city center participates in the mediation between
built spaces and social practices.   We suggest that one key
process taking place in global cities is the reappropriation and
redeployment of sedimented terms and established spaces, such as
the downtown, in new contexts, practices, and situations.  Some
topics panelists might consider are the downtown as a site for
architectural presentation, as a hub in a tourist economy, as a
heritage site, or as a stage for multicultural arts performances.
Panelists may also want to consider other frames of reference that
participants in cities are using to describe the city center, as
well as the significance of anxieties about the decay,
disappearance, or even renewal of the same.  We especially welcome
contributions that reflect on the ways we as researchers can
incorporate creative imaginings and uses of the city center in an
ethnographic project than aspires to an understanding of translocal

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