Diffractions publishes reviews of books in Culture Studies and its related fields in any of the accepted languages (English, Portuguese and Spanish).
In line with our mission statement, we look forward to receiving book reviews that privilege an interdisciplinary outlook.
Reviews are usually 1500 to 2000 words and take the form of critical engagements with one or more texts and strive to situate them in a broader theoretical debate.
We also accept reviews of books that are not listed below.
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We cannot simply listen to our urban past. Yet we encounter a rich cultural heritage of city sounds presented in text, radio and film. How can such »staged sounds« express the changing identities of cities? This volume presents a collection of studies on the staging of Amsterdam, Berlin and London soundscapes in historical documents, radio plays and films, and offers insights into themes such as film sound theory and museum audio guides. In doing so, this book puts contemporary controversies on urban sound in historical perspective, and contextualises iconic presentations of cities. It addresses academics, students, and museum workers alike.
With contributions by Jasper Aalbers, Karin Bijsterveld, Carolyn Birdsall, Ross Brown, Andrew Crisell, Andreas Fickers, Annelies Jacobs, Evi Karathanasopoulou, Patricia Pisters, Holger Schulze, Mark M. Smith and Jonathan Sterne.
Paris-Amsterdam underground: essays on cultural resistance, subversion, and diversion
Christoph Lindner, Andrew Hussey
2014 | Amsterdam University Press | 198 pages
The postwar histories of Paris and Amsterdam have been significantly defined by the notion of the underground as both a material and metaphorical space. Examining the underground traffic between the two cities, this book interrogates the countercultural histories of Paris and Amsterdam in the mid to late-twentieth century. Shuttling between Paris and Amsterdam, as well as between postwar avant-gardism and twenty-first century global urbanism, this interdisciplinary book seeks to create a mirroring effect over the notion of the underground as a driving force in the making of the contemporary European city.
Inert Cities: Globalization, Mobility and Suspension in Visual Culture
Stephanie Hemelryk Donald, Christoph Lindner
2014 | I.B. Tauris | 230 pages
We usually associate contemporary urban life with movement and speed. But what about those instances when the forms of mobility associated with globalized cities - the flow of capital, people, labor and information - freeze, or decelerate? How can we assess the value of interruption in a city? What does valuing stillness mean in regards to the forward march of globalization? When does inertia presage decay - and when does it promise immanence and rebirth? Bringing together original contributions by international specialists from the fields of architecture, photography, film, sociology and cultural analysis, this cutting-edge book considers the poetics and politics of inertia in cities ranging from Amsterdam, Berlin, Beirut and Paris, to Beijing, New York, Sydney and Tokyo. Chapters explore what happens when photography, film, mixed media works, architecture and design intervene in public spaces and urban communities to disrupt speed and growth, both intellectually and/or practically; and question the degree to which mobility is aspirational or imaginary, absolute or transient. Together, they encourage a re-assessment of what it means to be urban in an unevenly globalizing world, to live in cities built around mythologies of perpetual progress.
Urban Hacking: Cultural Jamming Strategies in the Risky Spaces of Modernity
Günther Friesinger, Johannes Grenzfurthner, Thomas Ballhausen
2014 | transcript verlag | 230 pages
Urban spaces became battlefields, signifiers have been invaded, new structures have been established: Netculture replaced counterculture in most parts and also focused on the everchanging environments of the modern city. Important questions have been brought up to date and reasked, taking current positions and discourses into account. The major question still remains, namely how to create culturally based resistance under the influence of capitalistic pressure and conservative politics. This collection of essays and contributions attempts to address this question and its implications for different scientific and artistic fields.
Urban Life-Worlds in Motion: African Perspectives
Hans Peter Hahn, Kristin Kastner
2014 | transcript verlag | 228 pages
Urban agglomerations host the most vital and creative societies. This applies particularly to Africa, where cities have the highest growth rates world-wide and where the urban population is younger than anywhere else. Urban life-worlds are the basis for the development of new lifestyles and new cultural phenomena. Based on empirical ethnographic research, this book presents case studies that enhance our understanding of the dynamics of urbanity in Africa and beyond - by envisioning cities as crossroads where cultures, biographies and networks meet.
Creative Networks and the City: Towards a Cultural Political Economy of Aesthetic
Bas van Heur
2014 | transcript Verlag | 232 pages
This book offers a fundamental contribution to the literature on the creative industries and the knowledge-based economy by focusing on three aspects: urban spaces as key sites of capitalist restructuring, creative industries policies as state technologies aimed at economic exploitation, and the role of networks of aesthetic production in inflecting these tendencies. It simultaneously goes beyond these debates by integrating a concern with the cultural and aesthetic dimensions of the creative industries. As such, the book is relevant to researchers interested in the transdisciplinary project of a cultural political economy of creativity and urban change.
Thick Space: Approaches to Metropolitanism
Dorothee Brantz, Sasha Disko, Georg Wagner-Kyora
2014 | transcript Verlag | 384 pages
Could the concepts of »metropolitanism« and »thick space« aid our understanding of historical and contemporary urban change? Essays by scholars from both sides of the Atlantic provide interdisciplinary approaches to the complex dynamics of large-scale urbanization. The book opens with conceptual questions regarding the development of metropoles and metropolitan studies. The following sections provide analyses of the social, environmental, and cultural dimensions of metropolitan spaces from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, such as the role of planning and urban parks, the impact of ethnic diversity and segregation, the place of cinematic visions or the centrality of infrastructures and architecture.
Popular Culture in Asia: Memory, City, Celebrity
Lorna Fitzsimmons | John A. Lent
2013 | Palgrave Macmillan | 240 pages
This book provides perspectives on relationships between Asian popular culture and a number of major socio-political issues and movements, including war responsibility, democratization, globalization, urbanization, modernization, and gender reconstruction. It consists of studies of film, music, television, anime, architecture, and computer-mediated communication in China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. Themes include the relationships between popular culture and nationalism, Western social forces and cultural forms, regionalism, political change, modernity, traditionalism, and gender identity. The three sections of the book—memory, city, celebrity—are interlinked in their shared concern with the socio-political functions of popular culture.