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Re-thinking cinema and the city in crisis: Film, narrative agency and urban transformation in selected recent publications

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This article compares three recent publications, which engage with questions of urban transformation in times of economic and social crisis in global film. Although the three publications consider a heterogeneous corpus of films, they share a sensibility for the intricate interrelationship between the medium of cinema and urban space, especially in connection to social marginalization and urban degeneration. This article examines the underlying assumption of these publications that film is a spatial medium, which not only representationally captures urban transformations, but also partakes in them. By challenging notions of narrative agency, film can likewise explore one-sided notions of agency and urban space, extending the scope beyond the primacy of human agency and considering non-human forms of agency. The three publications and the films they explore are thus expressive of a posthuman and new materialist sensibility in the study of urban space.
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Keywords: cinema as spatial medium; new materialism; posthumanism; social marginalization and precarity; space and (non)human agency; urban crisis and transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: TU Dortmund University

Publication date: 01 September 2016

More about this publication?
  • Cities have been increasingly at the forefront of debate in both humanities and social-science disciplines, but there has been relatively little dialogue across these disciplinary boundaries. Journals in social-science fields that use urban-studies methods to look at life in cities rarely explore the cultural aspects of urban life in any depth or delve into close readings of the representation of cities in individual cultural products. As a platform for interdisciplinary scholarship from any and all linguistic, cultural and geographical traditions, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies prioritizes the urban phenomenon in order to better understand the culture(s) of cities.
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