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Urban encounters: Performance and making urban worlds

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This article develops how urban encounters have been theorized and mobilized across the social sciences to emphasize the ordinary and unspectacular ways in which people live together in cities in response to widespread talk of a crisis of multiculturalism. Situated in the contact zone between social science disciplines and arts practice, the article argues for performative and more political theorizations of spaces of encounter. Focusing on photographer Mahtab Hussain’s project You Get Me? (2017), the article examines how photographic portraits offer one example of a performative encounter that takes up as a position in the politics of lived experience by carving out spaces where difference might be encountered in new ways, and by challenging viewers to imagine and enact new ways of being-in-common.
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Keywords: encounters; experimental geographies; multiculture; performativity; photography; urban space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Edinburgh

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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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