CFP: [Science] CFP: Visualizing the Urban Jungle and the Urban Oasis

full name / name of organization: 
Lisa Uddin
contact email: 

Call For Papers

“Visualizing the Urban Jungle and the Urban Oasis: City Space and the
American Environmental Imaginary,” panel for the American Studies
Association Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., November 5-8, 2009

This panel seeks to explore tensions and parallels between American
conceptions of urban space and wilderness, both within and outside of the
United States. On the one hand, urban space may be conceptualized as an
alternative to nature, a man-made environment designed and practiced to
civilize or domesticate the wilderness. Yet at the same time, the new
kinds of physical, social, and cultural relations brought about by the
industrial and post-industrial urban environment often figure in the
cultural imaginary as natural, primal, wild, or other-than-human. How have
urban American residents, agencies, artists, and reformers conceived of
their social and built worlds in terms we might currently call
environmental? What kind of visual practices are in play in the navigation
and/or depiction of outdoor urban environments such as streets, public
squares, parks, gardens, waterways, and zoos? How have artists, urban
planners, architects, civil engineers, and members of the general public
defined and re-imagined "unnatural" spaces in the city through particular
visual and spatial aesthetics? In what ways do differences of class, race,
gender, and sexuality shape and express these constructions? To what
extent can we speak of the urban jungle and/or oasis as a co-production
between human and nonhuman organisms and what purposes do these
co-productions serve in the politics of cities and environmentalism more

Paper topics for this panel may include (but are not limited to):

· Surveillance and social control as a mode of urban “sustainability”
· Rooftop gardens, urban farming, and the greening of urban space
· Urban architecture as a metaphor for the natural world, and vice versa
· Social Darwinism, class difference, and species difference
· The City Beautiful movement
· Natural rehabilitation of urban spaces in public art and urban
design (e.g. NYC’s High Line Project, urban “earth art”)
· Urban ruins
· Suburbia and New Urbanism
· Lawns and other domesticated landscapes
· Urban interspecies encounters and the spaces that frame them (e.g.
zoos, dog parks)
· Natural history museums and botanical gardens
· Trans-species disease (e.g. avian flu, mad cow) and the global city

Please submit a 500 word abstract and CV to both Catherine Zuromskis and
Lisa Uddin at and by January 1, 2009.

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Received on Tue Dec 09 2008 - 21:29:32 EST