York’s City Institute hosts workshop on changing nature of cities

The City Institute at York University (CITY) is bringing urban researchers together from Berlin, Bologna, Denver, Helsinki, Leipzig, Manchester and Toronto to compare various aspects of these cities, including the transformations they have undergone, at the Metro Millennium workshop, May 11 and 12 at the Keele campus.

This invitation-only workshop will explore two different themes, with the first looking at city-tourism and its implications. The urban researchers will investigate the meaning of celebrity architecture in local urban sites and look at notions of spaces of tourism through the lens of consumption, aesthetic economies, performative places, the exotic and the spectacular places of city life.

They will also explore the idea of architecture as a precious artifact or sought-after destination in an attempt to provoke critical dialogue across disciplinary boundaries and between intsitiutions about the multiple relationships between tourism and the built urban environment.

The second theme of the workshop will crack open the relationship between the city centre and suburbia and will look at the stereotypical views of what makes up European and North American cities. Denver is a typical American city with urban sprawl, peppered with edge cities, which is ostensibly unsustainable as a human settlement and as an ecological region, whereas Bologna, Helsinki and Berlin represent the dense, built up environment of the European city. It is thought that these European-style cities allow public transit and cultural urbanity to flourish.

Manchester and Leipzig add the flavour of long-term decline and shrinkage to the mix, which particularly affects urban peripheries, while Toronto lies somewhere in the middle. The task of the researchers is to discuss whether or not these stereotypes still hold or if they need to be rethought. The idea is to re-examine North American and European urban forms and relationships, and to explore the consequences of stereotypical thinking when it comes to cities.

The urban researchers at the workshop will take an interdisciplinary approach to their discussion including the fields of history, geography, environmental and urban studies, ecology, architecture, literature, visual arts and communications, sociology, politics, economics, anthropology and archaeology. The discussions will provide the starting point for future collaboration among the various universities represented, with the aim to design a graduate seminar between the institutions as well as a research think-tank to develop future research.

Workshop participants will include event organizers Shelley Hornstein, a York visual arts professor, and Roger Keil, director of CITY; Elena Lamberti of the University of Bologna; David Lieberman and Mary Lou Lobsinger of the University of Toronto; Dean Saitta, Roberta Waldbaum, Linda Olson and Robert Sanford of the University of Denver; Matthias Bernt of the Environmental Research Institute in Leipzig; Dorothee Brantz of the Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin; Anne Haila of the University of Helsinki; Maria Kaika of the University of Manchester; and Marcus Funck, Leslie Korrick, Ute Lehrer and Stefan Kipfer of York University.

This event was made possible through an Internationalization Grant from the Office of the Vice-President Academic and the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation as well as York International, York’s Canadian Centre for German & European Studies and Foreign Affairs & International Trade Canada.

The participating partner universities also contributed generously to the funding of the event.

For more information, contact Shelley Hornstein at shelleyh@yorku.ca, Roger Keil at rkeil@yorku.ca or city@yorku.ca.