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The University of Southampton
Winchester Centre for Global Futures in Art Design & Media

Cultural Spaces: Creative Places? Event

23 - 24 July 2015
Winchester School of Art

For more information regarding this event, please email Dr Yuanyuan Yin at .

Event details

A Joint International Symposium at Winchester School of Art. University of Nanjing, China - University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Slowly but surely rising up the agenda of the arts and social sciences, the concept of cultural spaces has yet to assume a dominant role in either disciplinary arena. Perhaps, then, the time is right not only to reconsider the idea of cultural spaces but also to inject fresh thinking through an encounter with notions of ‘living space’ (Lefebvre) and ‘spatialized histories of power’ (Foucault) together with contemporary historical and critical conceptions of cultural spaces?

Indeed, recent years have seen a rapidly growing interest among national and international policy makers in cultural spaces and creative places as driving forces for economic development, sustainability and prosperity (DCMS, 2001; UN, 2008). But to what extent do cultural spaces coincide with creative places? What synergies and divisions exist between the cultural characteristics of locations and their creative capacities? Does a rich cultural context facilitate or stifle highly creative activity? This international symposium will question the links between cultural spaces and creative places with the aim of reaching a deeper appreciation of the relationship between culture and creativity at various spatial scales – from the local to the global.

Contributions to this joint symposium at Winchester School of Art are welcomed that debate or offer fresh contemporary perspectives on cultural spaces as creative places within a global framework. Such debates and perspectives may take the form of, for example, Marxist, modern, and postmodern commentaries on themes of cultural spaces and time (Jameson, 1991), creativity and everyday life, places of psychic experience, language, and history. Alternatively, contributions might focus on the sometimes-disorienting and confusing experience of cultural spaces such as creative megacities, heritage districts, luxury hotels, transport systems, interior design, urban rhythms, and conceptions of immersion in hyperspace and local places. Ideas associated with the de-centring of cultural spaces, of the body’s capacity to organize, perceive, map, and comprehend the external world of creative places are also welcome. What, for instance, do contemporary buildings symbolize? The epitome of global capitalism? A node in a communication network? A loss or renewal of individual subjectivity?

Importantly, the symposium will offer an opportunity to examine the multifaceted links between cultural spaces, creative ecologies and systems of knowledge production at various scales from communities to cities and from regions to nations and beyond. Moreover, by bringing together a multidisciplinary group of scholars, the symposium will facilitate an exploration of the overlaps between cultural and the creative spaces and industries (Hesmondhalgh, 2013; Caves, 2001) as well as delineating the distinctions between culture, creativity, and place. Through a culturally and spatially informed interrogation of the ideas of the creative economy (Howkins, 2001) and the creative city (Florida, 2004) together with empirical investigations of creative and cultural sectors, cities and regions, in European and East Asian countries, contributors will map out conceptual and empirical appreciations of cultural and creative spaces and places with a view to the development of a collaborative research agenda.

Consequently, the aim of the joint symposium is to interpret cultural spaces collaboratively but also differently from what has gone before. What are the key themes of contemporary cultural spatiality and how are they realized creatively in particular places? How are cultural spaces embodied for the individual in the environment and what does this mean for subjectivity and contemporary architectural style, the social and economic composition of urban creative places as the processes of globalization continue to unfold?

Similarly, which accounts of these themes are the most persuasive? What are the distinguishing characteristics of cultural spaces today? Should we focus our efforts on conceptions of cultural and spatial integration, co-ordination, and projection or on urban aesthetics, design, and style (Harvey, 1991)? Perhaps historical materialist analyses are giving way to analyses concerned with time and global communications, speed, consumption, and information rather than production. To be sure, modes of flexible employment (part-time, casual labour, sub-contracting, and diversification) are on the rise in the same way that the influence of trade unions appears to be on the wane in an era of time-space compression. And what of the fate of the so-called ‘information society’ or the ‘knowledge’ economy? Do new information and communications technologies generate a ‘timeless time’ governed by the ‘space of flows’ (Castells, 2010) as the global transactions of finance circulate wealth and information through cyberspace, everyday life, art, culture, and world capitalism? Are we now in the era of the ‘creative’ economy?

As these questions suggest, a new awareness of cultural spaces and creative places is required today. What new cultural spaces are emerging? How are such creative places experienced at the level of the individual in terms of productive activity, consumer behaviour and leisure? How can cultural spaces contribute to the socio-cultural wellbeing, sustainability, and economic prosperity of creative communities and societies in particular places? What policy initiatives are required to harness and cultivate the value of cultural spaces? To what extent can place specific creative resources be leveraged in global settings for economic and/or political purposes? And, finally, how might we begin to interpret the relations between culture, space, creativity, and place in the twenty-first century?

The language of the symposium is English

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