CALL FOR PAPERS: Creative Spaces: Urban Culture and Marginality in Latin America

Friday 22 January 2016

Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS), University of London
19th May 2016

Marginal urban spaces in Latin America have drawn considerable artistic, political and scholarly attention since the mid-twentieth century, when the unprecedented growth of cities led to the massive expansion of informal housing constructed on occupied land. While Latin American cities have always included marginal spaces (due, for example, to the segregation of indigenous groups), marginality in its contemporary manifestation is inherently linked to urban informality. Moreover, this spatial difference continues to be linked to issues of class, politics, and race, ensuring that marginal spaces remain inherently ‘other’. Two contending views of the urban margins can, however, be distinguished: one considers them as spaces of deprivation, violence and dangerous alterity; while the other considers them to be spaces of opportunity, creativity and popular empowerment.

While conscious of the problems and needs still faced by those living in conditions of marginality in Latin America, this conference will focus on the production of the ‘new’ within marginal spaces themselves, on creative interventions and solutions to the problems encountered in them, and on creative representations of their inhabitants.

The conference will create dialogue between academics working in fields such as cultural and urban studies, architecture, geography, sociology, and anthropology. Possible topics for papers include, but are not limited to:

  • New art forms emerging from the urban margins (e.g. Cumbia villera, Baile Funk¸ graffiti art);
  • New cinematic and literary works produced by residents of marginal spaces themselves;
  • Architectural interventions in marginal spaces;
  • Community-led projects in the urban margins;
  • Works produced by artists, writers and filmmakers outside the urban margins which draw inspiration from their inherent creativity;
  • Works which represent the urban margins as spaces which either produce or introduce new and radically different subjectivities into the wider urban environment;
  • New forms of political or social organisation materializing within marginal spaces.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Dr Geoffrey Kantaris, Reader in Latin American Culture, University of Cambridge
  •  Justin McGuirk, writer, curator and critic, author of Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture (2014) (TBC)
  • With the participation of Dr Felipe Hernández, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge

Abstracts of approximately 300 words should be emailed to the conference organisers Niall Geraghty and Adriana Massidda at the address BY 15th MARCH 2016.