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CFP: Space Oddities conference in Graz, Austria in November 2014
full name / name of organization:
Austrian Association of American Studies (AAAS)
41st AAAS Conference in Graz / Nov. 21 – 23, 2014
When we think of American cities, we have a complex (and often contradictory) set of images in mind, possibly encompassing glimpses of the Boston Marathon bombings, postcard motifs of the One World Trade Center, and palm trees on Sunset Boulevard, L.A. In its various shapes and discourses, the American city functions as both a parameter and an expression of the complexities of U.S. social practice. At the same time, it also serves as a prism of overarching social and cultural transformation.
This conference is interested in tracking these recent changes by focusing on the ‘oddities’ of the American urban imaginary in the age of globalization and deterritorialization. “The city as we imagine it, the soft city of illusion, myth, aspiration, and nightmare,” Jonathan Raban points out, “is as real, maybe more real than the hard city one can locate on maps, statistics, monographs on urban sociology, demography and architecture.”
Our line of inquiry reflects Raban’s idea of the ‘soft city,’ but also follows Henri Lefevbre’s premise in The Production of Space that every society produces its own space as a means of expressing its specificity and distinction from other societies.
Possible targets of discussion include “real-and-imagined places” (E. Soja) such as Las Vegas and Los Angeles as well as more historically grounded metropolises such as New York City and Chicago. What all American cities seem to have in common is that they participate in a discourse that Edward Soja has put under the header of an “imaginative geography,” that is, a form of cognitive mapping that constructs national and cultural identity along the lines of geographic borders.
Special attention will be paid to three forms of American spatiality: a.) lived urban spaces (Atlantic/Pacific cities, transcultural modes of exchange, urban subcultures, etc.), b.) mapped spaces (city charts, Google maps, etc.), and c.) imaginary and mediated spaces (fake cities, simulacra such as Disneyland, literary and cinematic cities, etc.).
We invite scholars from various disciplines to submit proposals for papers and panels dealing with issues of spatiality and urbanity. Contributions could address – but are not limited to – the following topics and questions:
- Affective spaces – How can American cities be imagined in terms of affects and emotional
Please send abstracts (or glowing pamphlets) of no more than 300 words, accompanied by a bio sketch