Re-visioning Black Urbanism

This research explores new modes of inhabiting, imagining and making cities from progressive black and culturally diverse perspectives.

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Re-Visioning Black Urbanism is a new research initiative being developed at the Centre by Paul Goodwin (Research Associate). It will explore new modes of inhabiting, imagining and making cities from progressive black and culturally diverse perspectives. The project will critically examine the impact, contribution and engagement of black and minority ethnic communities with contemporary urbanism: the physical, economic, social, political and cultural environments in metropolitan areas.

About the research

The research component of the project will:

  1. re-think the way black communities have been conceptualised in Western urban thought
  2. research case studies of black urbanism as 'dissident' socio-spatial interventions in cities involving specific forms of spatial knowledges, discourses and strategies
  3. explore alternative visions of urban life by black artists, architects and thinkers

The research will encompass critiques of urban epistemology and urban rationalities by engaging with the work of writers as diverse as WEB DuBois, Michel Foucault, Rosalyn Deutsche, Paul Gilroy and Henri Lefebvre. Case studies based on ongoing field research in London and Paris will be included. The project will initiate scholarly debate, stimulate community dialogues and produce original research reports and publications.

Seminars and events

A series of seminars and special events will address issues of black urbanism in the UK with a focus on London as a key 'laboratory' in the evolution of forms of urban multi-culture. There will be two major series.

Series 1 - The Regeneration Game: challenges of black urbanism - will critically examine current urban regeneration agendas in light of the impact on and contributions of black communities to the urban landscape in London and beyond. With major regeneration projects in Elephant and Castle, Thames Gateway and the 2012 Olympics set to radically transform London's architectural and socio-cultural environment this series will constructively question the engagement of urban regeneration with black urbanism from a variety of perspectives and disciplines.

Series 2 - Re-Visioning the City - will explore how black artists, architects, writers, musicians, cultural workers and urban practitioners are re-thinking and re-visioning processes of urban change and the creation of new urban spaces, real or imagined. The emphasis here will be on forms of black creative practice; the spatial modalities of improvisational culture and the question of how black artists have imagined utopia/ dystopia.

Accompanying the seminars will be a number of programmed activities and special events: a curated exhibition around the themes of Re-Visioning Black Urbanism; various architectural and urban-themed music events and a programme of talks and debates with urban movers and shakers: architects, artists, designers and community organisers.

  • at the Sassoon Gallery, Peckham (4-6 September 2007)
  • at Tate Modern, Global Cities Exhibition (23 July 2007)

The series began in November 2006 and ran throughout 2007.