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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2015 | Palgrave Macmillan | 208 pages
While the femme fatale has attracted considerable scholarly attention over the decades, Samantha Lindops timely and engaging study is the first to trace the cinematic history of the character by also taking into account the spider womans lesser known counterparts, the fille fatale and homme fatal. Lindop explores the earliest instances of noir, challenging some of the assumptions attached to the figure of that era, through to the most recent postmillennial phase of neo-noir production. She considers the multifaceted interactions between the histories, origins, and conventions of characters and genres, and the way these interweave into contemporary interpretations. In doing so, Lindop compellingly engages with current critical debates about dominant postfeminist discourse, particularly in relation to sexuality, nostalgia, aging, race, girlhood, and the postfeminist man. These themes are considered through close readings of the films Mulholland Drive, Chloé, Derailed,Sin City, Descent, Stoker, Hard Candy, Brick, Taking Lives, Mr Brooks, and In the Cut.
Post-Cosmopolitan Cities: Explorations of Urban Coexistence
Caroline Humphrey, Vera Skvirskaja
2014 | Berghahn Books | 260 pages
Examining the way people imagine and interact in their cities, this book explores the post-cosmopolitan city. The contributors consider the effects of migration, national, and religious revivals (with their new aesthetic sensibilities), the dispositions of marginalized economic actors, and globalized tourism on urban sociality. The case studies here share the situation of having been incorporated in previous political regimes (imperial, colonial, socialist) that one way or another created their own kind of cosmopolitanism, and now these cities are experiencing the aftermath of these regimes while being exposed to new national politics and migratory flows of people.
Port Cities and Global Legacies: Urban Identity, Waterfront Work, and Radicalism
2014 | Palgrave Macmillan | 256 pages
This book advances the concept of global legacies - enduring forms, processes, or ideas of the global that shape urban identity and politics. Global legacies provide a key lens on the difficult pasts and uncertain futures of cities. In particular, port cities, with their distinctive global dynamics, long histories of casual labour, large migrant communities, and roles within international trade networks, exhibit fascinating global legacies.
Employing a rich methodological repertoire, Alice Mah combines approaches from critical political economy, global history and sociology, and ethnographic case study methods in this comparative study. The result is a careful examination of the contradictory legacies of empire, capitalism, casual labour, and radicalism in Liverpool, Marseille, and New Orleans. These major port cities faced painful processes of ruination followed by attempts at recovery in the recent past. This book reveals that while global legacies are fraught and contradictory, they also offer a framework of possibilities and resources for imagining alternative urban futures.
Mobilities and Neighbourhood Belonging in Cities and Suburbs
Paul Watt, Peer Smets
2014 | Palgrave Macmillan | 280 pages
Contemporary urban and suburban dwellers seem to be constantly on the move - commuting to work and travelling for leisure as well as moving homes. Does this mean that people are rootless and lack a sense of belonging to particular places, and especially to the neighbourhoods in which they live? Or does enhanced mobility co-exist with feelings of community, belonging and being-at-home? These questions are examined in the chapters of this collection through an exciting series of neighbourhood-based case studies drawn from original research undertaken in the cities and suburbs of Europe, North America and Africa. This book discusses various forms of place belonging, gated communities, social mixing in post-regeneration neighbourhoods, transnational and forced mobility, suburban youth, and everyday social relations between newcomers and old timers. The chapters illustrate how neighbourhoods are made and remade through flows of people as they circulate in and out, within and around these residential locales via everyday travel and periodic residential relocation. This inter-disciplinary collection employs a range of theoretical approaches drawn from urban studies, sociology, social anthropology, geography and planning.
Geographies of Urban Sound
2014 | Ashgate Publishing | 278 pages
Taking into account both the urban soundscape and the impacts of sound on the urban dweller, this book examines sound not as a by-product of urban life, but as a fundamental part of the urban experience that is crucial to understanding the city’s sense of place. Illustrated by case studies from Europe and North America, these range from on-site measurements to the construction of audio tours for local tourism, from media analysis of popular culture audio drama to sound-identity and city branding, and from the classification of noise in city planning to a consideration of the complex relationship between sacred sound and the creation of a sense of place.
Queer Cities, Queer Cultures
Jennifer V. Evans, Matt Cook
2014 | Bloomsbury | 304 pages
Queer Cities, Queer Cultures examines the formation and make-up of urban subcultures and situates them against the stories we typically tell about Europe and its watershed moments in the post 1945 period. The book considers the degree to which the iconic events of 1945, 1968 and 1989 influenced the social and sexual climate of the ensuing decades, raising questions about the form and structure of the 1960s sexual revolution, and forcing us to think about how we define sexual liberalization - and where, how and on whose terms it occurs.
An international team of authors explores the role of America in shaping particular forms of subculture; the significance of changes in legal codes; differing modes of queer consumption and displays of community; the difficult fit of queer (as opposed to gay and lesbian) politics in liberal democracies; the importance of mobility and immigration in modulating queer urban life; the challenge of AIDS; and the arrival of the internet.
By exploring the queer histories of cities from Istanbul to Helsinki and Moscow to Madrid, Queer Cities, Queer Cultures makes a significant contribution to our understanding of urban history, European history and the history of gender and sexuality.
Spectacle and the City. Chinese Urbanities in Art and Popular Culture
Jeroen de Kloet and Lena Scheen (eds.)
2014 | Amsterdam University Press | 288 pages
As China becomes increasingly modern and urban, artists have responded by imagining the Chinese city at the intersections of the social, material, and political realities of modern life. This volume explores how the city-as-spectacle has been visualized and contested in art and popular culture. Featuring essays by an interdisciplinary team of scholars, Spectacle and the City is as broad as the terrain it covers: with essays by an interdisciplinary team of experts on Chinese cities, as well as leading cultural critics, it goes beyond mainland China to include cities with cultural significance, such as Singapore and Hong Kong.
Soundscapes of the Urban Past. Staged Sound as Mediated Cultural Heritage
Karin Bijsterveld (ed.)
2013 | transcript Verlag | 230 pages
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.