Urban Humanities

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Urban Humanities Working Group Presents:

"'Is There Really a New Economy?' A Sociologist Tries to Understand New York's Innovation Complex"
Sharon Zukin, Professor of Sociology Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center

Friday, November 30, 2018
3:00pm-6:00pm
Academic Building West 6051
15 Seminary Place, CAC

For the past four years, I have been exploring the "emplacement" of cultural forms and economic norms associated with the "new" economy in New York City. This economy is powered by an infrastructure of digital technology and inspired by "innovation and entrepreneurship" and related tropes. Because the formation of an "innovation complex" depends on social, cultural, and political processes, and is inherently spatial, I describe the city's new economy as a series of nested spaces where digital products are produced, occupational cultures are formed, and various kinds of local and global financial capital are combined, all within a contentious patchwork of land-use interests. The talk will introduce the "innovation complex" and discuss how I did the research for the book.

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In the wake of the so-called “urban turn” in the humanities and social sciences in recent years, the Urban Humanities Working Group wants to investigate the possible frameworks through which the city emerges as a unit of analysis in the various disciplines of literary studies history, geography, and film studies. The idea of the city crosses multiple disciplinary formations, and by juxtaposing the concept of the city with multiple disciplines, we want to interrogate the ways the definitions of urban space interact with each of these disciplines. The city itself has morphed into something that transgresses the traditional formations of the urban and the rural, the fictional and the material, the state/institutional, and the resistant/popular. What do we mean when we use this concept of the city and what kinds of multi-disciplinary, inter-disciplinary approaches are required to capture formations that elude a singular definition? In the face of grand proclamations that we are living through an “urban age,” or experiencing global homogenizing processes of “plantetary urbanization”, what does it mean to attend to the historical and geographical particularity of “cityness”? How does the analytical abandonment of “the city” foreclose an openness to the lived experience of urban life? How does literature, film, and related ethnographic texts reveal the city phenomenologically and historically to be something that exceeds the seemingly outdated definitional logics of urban/rural?

Organizers

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