Divided Cities: Culture, Infrastructure and the Urban Future

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The interdisciplinary project, ‘Divided Cities: Culture, Infrastructure and the Urban Future’, analyses the ways in which various literary and cultural activities, performances and events might be used to resolve urban conflict. By focusing on the interlocking themes of urban identity, top-down planning, environmental degradation and migration, the project explores the ways in which cities and twenty-first-century urban cultures and infrastructures have come to embody wider global conflicts, inequalities and divisions, before asking how different cultural forms might allow us to imagine new urban futures. The project is funded by the British Council USA and TORCH.

The project emphasises a US-UK comparative perspective, and is structured through comparative city-specific studies of New Orleans, US and Newcastle, UK (as well as others). The reconstruction of post-Katrina New Orleans has been marked by infrastructural developments that serve the interests of a gentrified elite and disenfranchise large segments of the city’s poorer (and predominantly black) inhabitants. Meanwhile, unanticipated turnouts to vote to leave the European Union in the recent referendum in Newcastle and the North East of the UK might be read as symptomatic of broader urban divisions and feelings of political disenfranchisement in the city’s poorer populations.

The project pursues the provocative similarities thrown up by these otherwise extremely different and diverse urban spaces to ask how cultural forms might look forward to re-uniting or healing divided cities.

Principal Investigator: Professor Elleke Boehmer

Project Facilitator: Dr Dominic Davies