This event explores what it means when narratives of regeneration are applied to cities.
At the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Newham Council branded the Arc of Opportunity a “regeneration supernova”. This branding asked potential investors to imagine 1,412 hectares of land (stretching from Stratford through Canning Town and the Royal Docks) being obliterated by blinding incandescent light.
The regeneration supernova is among a number of tabula rasa ideas employed for the regeneration of city land; others include the ‘clean slate’, ‘wasted land’, and the phoenix rising from post-industrial ashes. These narratives often herald violence as social, cultural and historical life is erased, along too with the people that made it.
In this seminar chaired by David Madden, Alberto Duman, Dan Hancox, Malcolm James and Anna Minton - editors of Regeneration Songs: Sounds of Investment and Loss from East London (Repeater Books, 2018) - explore what it means when tabula rasa narratives for regeneration are applied to our cities, and how that relates to the jingoism and big capital of the Olympic Games. The seminar explores where such narratives are composed, what their particularities are, and what this tells us about the character of societies we live in. It also explores the role of public, private and cultural/artistic institutions in sustaining them.
Alberto Duman is an artist, university lecturer and independent researcher. He is a Lecturer at Middlesex University and runs the BA Fine Art and Social Practice with Loraine Leeson. Between 2013 and 2015 he led the Bartlett’s DPU London Summerlab. In 2016 he was the Leverhulme Trust artist in residence at University of East London UEL with the project Music for Masterplanning. Since 2014 he is also working as part of the DIG Collective.
Dan Hancox is a journalist from London interested in music, gentrification, pop culture and radical politics, among other things. His work regularly appears in the Guardian, New York Times, Vice and elsewhere. His books include The Village Against the World (Verso), about the Spanish “communist utopia” of Marinaleda, and Inner City Pressure (William Collins), a history of grime and London since 2000.
Malcolm James is a writer and teacher employed by University of Sussex. His research interests are in cultural studies, post-colonial and critical race approaches to youth, urban culture, migration, music and sound. He is author of the books Urban Multiculture: Youth, Politics and Cultural Transformation (shortlisted for Philip Abrams Memorial Prize), and co-editor of the book Regeneration Songs: Sounds of Investment and Loss in East London.
Anna Minton is a writer, journalist and Reader in Architecture at the University of East London. She is the author of Big Capital: Who is London For? (Penguin, 2017) and Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st Century City (Penguin, 2009). She is Programme Leader of UEL’s multidisciplinary Master of Research (MRes) in Architecture “Reading the Neoliberal City”. Between 2011-14 she was the 1851 Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition Fellow in the Built Environment. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian and is a frequent broadcaster.
David Madden is an Associate Professor in Sociology and teaches in the Cities Programme. He works on urban studies, political sociology, and social theory. He has conducted qualitative, ethnographic and historical research in New York City, London, and elsewhere, addressing topics including urban change, housing, public space, gentrification, critical theory, and planetary urbanisation. David holds a PhD from Columbia University and is a member of the editorial board of the journal CITY.
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