Category Archives: public space

Salvador da Bahia

As the first capital of Brazil in 1549 and one of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas, Salvador da Bahia is all about its heritage. The city is the result of the Portuguese colonization, the slave trade for almost 400 years and, of course, everything that comes from this bittersweet history.

Located in Bahia, in the northeastern region of the country, Salvador has many faces and titles – third largest city in Brazil (2017 pop. over 3 million with approx 4 million in the metropolitan area), Africa in America, part of the Caribbean, Home of Capoeira, Land of the Axé, UNESCO’s creative city for music, Carnival City, Bay of the Orixás, etc. However, even combined, all of these adjectives aren’t enough to capture the wild complexity of the city.

Salvador is known for its blended culture and religions, but also marked by its racial and class segregation. Both cases take us back to the city’s relation with Africa and the African diaspora. The port of Salvador was the door to one of the biggest slave markets in the world, and the African diaspora is an important factor in shaping the city’s spatial and cultural character.

Historic Centre of Salvador © Our Place The World Heritage Collection UNESCO

The multicultural factor is everywhere in the Bay of All Saints – food, languages, slangs, dances, rituals and many other moments in day to day life that mix the Yoruba, European and Brazilian cultures. From the Carnival in February or March to New Year’s Eve celebrations, the streets play an important role in Salvador’s routine, whether if it’s with the street food such as Acarajé, the tourism at the Historic Centre, the Carnival blocos, the trio elétrico followings, the Capoeira rodas, the Candomblé celebrations or the Catholic processions.

Continue reading Salvador da Bahia

Pokémon Go – The Peoples’ Republic

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go – Photo: Deng Ziru (CC 2016)

With the slicker interface and better users’ experience of Pokémon Go, the game is very popular in China as well. A great deal of students are getting over the wall so that they could have access to play Pokémon Go. Many young people, especially those who watched Pokémon and Digimon when they were young,are becoming addicted to it. They collect Pokémon eggs on their way to school, work, gym and so on. What’s more interesting is, since it’s now summer holiday,  many youth walk up and down at home to catch Pokémon eggs and they can rank top among all their friends on Werun (a step counting ap in Wechat) due to the steps at home.

Some of the Chinese players consider this game as a time killer and a way for recreation, some of them just play for networking, which means they can catch up with peer culture via this game. Some of them are aware of the game is boring but they just cannot stop because once they get into the game, they would be eager to collect all the Pokémon eggs. As a result, from many players’ perspective, Pokémon Go is more like a kind of collection game and social network game than a battle game.

Admittedly, with the fast pace of globalization and the transmission of information, there are lots of fans of Pokémon Go from all over the world and the share price of Nintendo increased dramatically these days. However, many people hold skeptical views of this game. First is the information security. The game needs our GPS location and other private information, which may cause the players’ personal data to leak out. Some traditional Chinese people even hold the opinion that the game as a Japanese martial plot, which may harm national interests. Secondly, what’s the meaning of the game? Some players feel it boring and have unloaded the game already. The trend changes everyday. How long can the popularity of Pokémon Go last?Let’s wait and see.

Ziru Deng (East China Normal University / University of Alberta)

Pokémon Go – The latest in place making?

You go to the Pokémon (creature) so you actually have to see the monument and it opens people up to the city. The game highlights local art and monuments for people who otherwise wouldn’t have known they existed (Edmonton Pokémon Go player).

pokemon go picture (4)

There is a craze targeting 20-somethings in our fair city. It’s Pokémon Go. For those who missed the Pokémon movement of the late 90’s, Pokémon are little creatures such as snakes, rats, dragons, eggs, etc. and the goal of the game is to ‘catch ’em all’. The new virtual Pokémon Go has exploded among those nostalgic for their  Pokémon past. While Pokémon Go players wander the parks and playgrounds in search of these little creatures, one can’t help but wonder if there is something else happening.

Is Pokémon Go a new opportunity for public engagement?

Michel de Certeau argues that stories, dreams, histories and myths connect people to places and render them tangible and habitable. Pokémon Go could be a new form of urban myth that not only connects, or reintroduces, Pokémon participant to the sights and sounds of their city, but also spontaneously brings people together, creating random, fluid and temporary ‘communities’.

Pokémon Go is ‘bowling en masse’ and is a golden opportunity for engaging, talking, reaching out, involving, inviting, attracting and introducing the uninitiated to the art of planning our public spaces. As any urban planner will tell you, public engagement can be quite disengaging for many citizens. The challenge is to balance needs, interests, concerns of all citizens often within tight fiscal constraints and many times, only a fraction of citizen voices are heard.

While this new fluid Pokémon Go audience may not necessarily be ‘captive’, they are ‘out there’, gathered in public spaces and maybe even available to talk about these newly rediscovered public spaces and perhaps other planning issues that come to mind….bike lanes, infill, public art, affordable housing, urban sprawl, etc. etc. But like all crazes and fads, this too shall pass, and planners must strike while the iron is hot. So come on planners, get your Pokémon game on, join in, and see what happens.

Dianne Gillespie (University of Alberta)

Dictatorship by Cartography

Naypyidaw, capital of Burma. Guardian Cities March 2015

In 2007, writing for Himal Southasian magazine, Siddharth Varadarajan called Naypyidaw, the underpopulated capital of Burma, built by the military regime, “dictatorship by cartography, geometry”:

Vast and empty, Burma’s new capital will not fall to an urban upheaval easily. It has no city centre, no confined public space where even a crowd of several thousand people could make a visual – let alone political – impression.

The building of cities is a massive infrastructural undertaking, a spasm that reflects and requires the concentration of political, economic and affective power.   Are cities where there is no “right to the city” by the people cities at all?  Materially perhaps but not in intangible, virtual terms: While constructed like cities, they lack urbanity, the quality of the urban.

Rob Shields (University of Alberta)

Panel on ‘Pop-Up Economies: Placemaking, Urban Sociality and the Politics and Cultures of Transitory Public Spaces’

Panel on ‘Pop-Up Economies: Placemaking, Urban Sociality and the Politics and Cultures of Transitory Public Spaces‘ as part of the ‘Minor Culture’ conference, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, December 2015

Panel convenor

Professor Susan Luckman (University of South Australia)
Email: susan.luckman@unisa.edu.au

About the ‘Minor Culture’ Conference

The Cultural Studies Association of Australasia (CSAA) presents Minor Culture, a three day conference that creates a space for inter-disciplinary dialogues around the study of place, identity and marginality. The conference runs from 1-3 December 2015, with a ‘prefix’ postgraduate day workshop on 30 November 2015.

NOTE: Call for papers has now closed

http://culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/events/minor-culture-conference

Notes on the Spatialisation of Emirati Identity

The Spatialization of Emirati Identity in Dubai, UAE
by Addison Miller – Ohio Wesleyan University

This conference paper explores how identity is rooted in the use of places and spaces despite the newness of Dubai.

Abstract: http://meridian.aag.org/callforpapers/program/AbstractDetail.cfm?AbstractID=60605