[URBANTH-L] Call for Submissions: Becoming Urban? Investigating the P-S Landscape

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Sun May 20 22:11:48 EDT 2007

[forwarded from H-SAE at H-NET.MSU.EDU]

Call For Papers

Becoming Urban?: Investigating the P-S Landscape

We are calling for contributions in the realms of culture studies, social
studies, urban studies, media studies, architecture and anthropology to
the volume Becoming Urban?: Investigating the P-S Landscape. This
volume aims to explore the metamorphosing urban, rural, social and
media landscapes in the geographical space usually referred to as
'post-socialist', i.e. potentially from the Balkans to Vladivostok,
including all that lies between.

However, we are acutely aware that, especially in terms of an
investigation of questions related to urban forms, this territory was
constituted as other in relation to the developed urban territory of the
Western world well before the advent of communism. In addition, it is far
from certain that socialism or communism was a distinct form of urban
organisation or whether it just represented one branch of the modernist
urban project. Also, not only was the experience of socialism lived very
differently in the different countries usually grouped under the heading
'post-socialist', but we have now had at least 15 years of something
different: is it therefore accurate to label this territory under the
heading 'socialist' even in conjunction with the epithet 'post'?

Thus, we have chosen to opt for the title "P-S" which, although
representing the first letters of Post-Socialist, also reflects our
hesitation as to whether this specific historical legacy is really the
dominant influence on the region. For P-S might equally stand for
Post-Soros, and thus suggest that it is the way in which the urban societies
of this region now plug into global flows of capital and knowledge that,
at least intellectually, plays the dominant role in fashioning this 
space as a coherent region. Another sense of P-S which plays an important
role in our thinking is that of Post-Scriptum as a challenge to Francis
Fukuyama's controversial assertion that the liberal urban democracies of the
West constitute the end of history; in this sense, are the urban forms
emerging in the P-S landscape simply footnotes to this conclusion or are
they significant enough to suggest that there is more to history than we
have yet understood? In addition, P-S has a further connotation which might
help in interpreting this uncharted landscape, since P-S is also the German
abbreviation for horse-power (in German, Pferd-Sterke). Might it be that the
absence of stable urban structures and the difficulty of understanding what
is happening in this region gives the cities here a specific dynamism of
their own?

So are the P-S civilisations at last becoming urban, in the sense of
catching up with the western and only model of urban civilisation, or does
the relationship to the legacies of history here open up new forms of urban
interaction? Or is it, in the age of the post-metropolis or post-modernity,
too late to become urban: what kind of urban forms are emerging in the
age of the domination of the global media village? Or do these societies
remain obdurately rural - or perhaps the 'rural' elements in the P-S cities
give them a special form of urban energy? Or are there also radical
changes happening in provincial and rural settlements, and in the
countryside, which are also linked to changes in urban life and the
dominant modes of economic production?

We see all these questions as being open and requiring new theoretical
and empirical approaches to try to map this confusing cultural space. For
simply importing Western urban theories seems inappropriate to map a
space which is itself being produced by a distorting/distorted encounter
with forces from the West?  Equally, while Marxism is appealing in a
context where the questions of who owns what and where does the profit go
are complicated and urgent, returning to Marx as a tool for analysing the
ruins of communism also seems questionable. Thus, to try to bring thinking
closer to what is really happening in  P-S societies, an anthropological
turn might seem a fruitful direction to take, but what then might be the
role of thinking in seeking to build models to explore this experience?

Articles, therefore, are expected be based on empirical evidence
from a city, cities, or the countryside in the region, but will also seek to
open up new theoretical avenues for dealing with the complex socio-cultural
organisation of this region.

Contributions should be in Russian and preceded by an abstract and
keywords in Russian, and followed by an abstract and keywords in
English. Please also attach short biographical information: i.e. institution
where you work and a brief mention of books/articles already published.
Articles should be submitted to us in electronic form before July 1st 2007,
but it would be helpful if those wishing to contribute an article could
signal their intention to do so earlier.

The publication is a product of an International Higher Education Support
Programme and will be published through the European Humanities University
Publishing House in Minsk. It is also planned that the best articles from
this volume will form the core of a publication in English under the same
title, scheduled for 2008.

For further information, please feel free to contact either Nerijus Milerius
(nerijus_miler at yahoo.com) or Benjamin Cope (b.cope at zacheta.art.pl )

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