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Global Cities and Cosmopolitan Dreams

Part of the Research Program on: Space, Time and New Technologies of the Self, 1st International Symposium

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Published on Tuesday, December 09, 2014


This project is interested in exploring the changing ideal of the city, exploring its ideological foundations, its physical construction, its social and political significance, its aesthetic value and its metaphorical meaning.



This trans-disciplinary research project is interested in exploring the changing ideal of the city, exploring its ideological foundations, its physical construction, its social and political significance, its aesthetic value and its metaphorical meaning.

Massive, messy, polluting, alienating, cruel, yet open, experimental, pluri-perspectival, creatively and technologically fertile, this is the ambiguous and fascinating nature of global cities in the 21st century. Like arterial nodes in a network, global cities absorb and pump both destructive and constructive energies, for good and bad they have become an interconnected web of magnetic poles, galvanizing creativity and experimental reconfigurations; artistic, political and economic forces circulate through these globalised networks that link cities across the world.

As cities experience unexpected expansion and contraction, as their populations grow ever more diverse and their resources ever more scarce, it is necessary to consider the construction – both theoretical and physical – of new global cities and to reflect upon the cosmopolitan dreams or ideologies on which they are being built.

We invite colleagues from all disciplines and professions interested in exploring and explaining these issues in a collective, deliberative and dialogical environment to send presentation proposals that address these general questions or the following themes:

1. The Ideal City: Image, Idea and Meaning

Historic Models, Modern Renditions

  • How has the ideal city been envisioned in both historic sources and in modern imaginings? What arguments have been employed in support of these models?
  • Whom and what must the ideal city include? Whom and what must it exclude?
  • What are the strengths and the weaknesses of the very idea of the ideal city? Why has the desire to construct such a city persisted?

Utopias and Dystopias

  • What images of the ideal city have been perpetuated in and through the arts?
  • What characterizes the dystopic city? What is the value of dystopias and their visions?

2. Ethnic Enclaves, Multicultural Avenues

Negotiating Difference

  • How are difference and similarity mediated or negotiated within city limits, within neighborhoods?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the development of enclaves (based on ethnicity, nationality, religion or other forms of social identity)? How do these enclaves embody and deviate from the ideal of diverse cultural interactions or multiculturalism?
  • What identifications and identities are forged in these various environments?

Contestation and Conciliations

  • How is difference (along lines of national origin, residence, citizenship, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, sex, body ability, age) being conceptualized? How is it being lived within city limits? How is difference being conceptualized, managed and marketed outside city limits?
  • What is the rhetoric of difference being employed in civic discourse?
  • What factors and means are used to foster recognition and non-recognition in and through these policies and practices?


  • How is cosmopolitanism to be defined?
  • What are the ideals and values embodied in the concept of cosmopolitanism? What arguments have been employed to support this vision of urban life? How are these translated into social practices and urban policies? Do these hold a special value in contrast to other orientations, practices and policies?
  • Have we entered into an era where cosmopolitan subjects, social relations, images and everyday life practices are created, experienced, renovated and redefined?

3. City Limits

Town and Country: Redefining the City (Part I)

  • How have the urbanization of the rural and the infiltration of the rural into cities shaped the way divisions are drawn between town and country?
  • How has the “greening” of cities affected understandings of this divide?

Cities and Nations: Redefining the City (Part II)

  • How are the discourses indicative of regional disparities transformed into the ideals of a nation?
  • Are we witnessing the once and future rise of the city-state?

Sacred Spaces

  • How are sacred spaces conceptualized in cosmopolitan cities?
  • How is the idea of the sacred being reconceived within its limits?

4. Neighbors, Residents, Denizens and Citizens


  • How are neighbors defined? How are they identified? What distinguishes neighbors from denizens and citizens? What distinguishes neighbors from residents and strangers?
  • How have social and political practices and policies shaped the discourse of neighbors?
  • What are the obligations and responsibilities of neighbors to newcomers and strangers; and vice-versa?

Neighborhood Watch

  • What are the processes of gentrification and displacement informing and how are they shaping the renovation of old neighborhoods?
  • How are processes of renewal, revival and reconstruction shaping the conditions for belonging within cities and within neighborhoods?


  • How is hospitality within the bounds of cities theorized? How is it practiced? How should hospitality be conceived and promoted: as a civic virtue, a valued social orientation, a normal social behavior towards newcomers, others and strangers?

Rights of Residents, Denizens and Citizens

  • How is citizenship established within cities?
  • What are the rights of citizens, denizens and residents? Should these be conceived and established in different ways, according to context, local needs and projects, responsibilities and contributions?
  • How does citizenship differ from resident rights? How does the local place and cities establish different and perhaps new political bonds than the state and the nation?
  • How are new technologies and transnationalism affecting and influencing ideals of citizenship and practices of (local or national) participation?

5. Street Life

Public and Private Spaces

  • How are cities re-conceptualizing the distinction between public and private space?
  • How are civic institution (administrative, policy making, education, health) being challenged and changed by new models of street life, local politics and cosmopolitan orientations?
  • How does the concentration of population give rise to and/or confound the development and maintenance of the public eye?
  • How is the value of privacy to be weighed against the call for public safety and the advancement of public goods in surveillance societies?


  • Do cities encourage certain forms of participation and foster others of anonymity? Are these in conflict, can they coexist or be complementary?
  • Who is rendered invisible within the structure of the city? How is social privilege and disadvantage linked to invisibility?
  • Is the anonymity offered by and within the city one of the strengths or one of the weaknesses of urban dwelling; urban social and political bonds?

Time and Place

  • In what ways are our notions of space and place being redefined within the city? What modes of experience, dialogues and encounters are thus encouraged? What forms of city life are discouraged?
  • How are understandings of time being redefined/reconfigured in/through new models of city life?

The Art in/of The City

  • How is the rise of street art challenging ideas of the city? How is it changing and reshaping the notion of art and the Art World?
  • How does architecture shape and frame images of city life and ideals of citizenship? Can it foster cosmopolitan ideas and social orientations?
  • How might the city be conceived of as a work of art? How can we define cities as works of art and how would these notions change our current understandings of art and the Art World?

6. Model Cities

Case Studies

  • What cities serve as models of/for physical, social and political relations? What assumptions (psychological, philosophical and sociological) inform and direct the construction of these model cities?
  • Are model cities better candidates to promote cosmopolitan ideals and experiences than other cities? Is cosmopolitanism in conflict with prescriptive understandings of moral behavior? How do conceptions of the good life work with cosmopolitan ideas? 

Resource Management

  • How can distributive justice be a permanent part of social life and the urban agenda in today’s global cities?
  • What principles of distributive justice are being employed in the allocation of scarce resources including water, transportation, safety and security? What principles should be employed?
  • Is there a place and a space for the sacred in the modern city? Why or why not?

Fast Forward

  • What images and models of the city of the future are being envisioned by artists, planners and politicians?
  • Which beliefs/ideologies frame these images? What is the place of utopia and dystopia in these futuristic scenarios? What about cosmopolitanism, can it be part of futuristic horizons?
  • What dissatisfactions and longings fuel these imaginings?

Cosmopolitan Dreams

  • Cities, like people emanate their desires. What hopes and aspirations fuel people to move to certain cities?
  • What factors create an allure and foster migration to particular cities? How might it be linked to the metaphorical meaning attached to certain cities? 
  • How are conflicting images and expectations of the city negotiated within its bounds? How do critical perspectives, utopia and dystopia interlace with cosmopolitan visions?

7. The Arrival City

Transition Points

  • What is the role of the arrival territories of impoverished migrants (city within a city: slum, favela, bustee, bidonville, shantytown, imijondolo, villa miseria, korogocho, chabolas) or the more established, yet transitory, immigrant neighborhoods, ethnic districts in the growth and development of global cities? What are their political, economic and social functions?
  • What transitions do these cities on the edge of cities deploy and allow? What transitions do they thwart and how might they contribute to marginality and exclusion?
  • How are transitory places and experiences eternalized, yet remain under conceptions of the temporary, “forever”?

Migration Patterns

  • What are the political, social and economic ramifications of reverse migration trends on cities and rural communities?
  • Why are people leaving and not migrating to global cities anymore? How are other smaller cities being affected by these trends

8. City-Scapes: Urban Renewal and Future

Revival, Regeneration and Displacement

  • How is city life being affected by urban renewal projects?
  • What are the short term and long term effects on the development of identity and of a sense of belonging arising from the push towards revival and reconstruction?

Home Territories

  • How is the concept of home being re-conceptualized in global cities?
  • How is the process and understanding of leaving home and returning home being reshaped? What is the effect of such shifts on our experiences of belonging and rootedness?
  • What new conceptions of belonging and its link to territory and home can be developed to better accommodate diversity and otherness within the parameters of the global city?

Submission guidelines

If you are interested in participating in this Annual Symposium, submit a 400 to 500 word abstract as soon as possible and no later than

Monday 13th of April, 2015.

(For justifiable cases, we do uphold a tolerance period of eight days.)

Please use the following template for your submission:

First: Author(s);

Second: Affiliation, if any;

Third: Email Address;

Fourth: Title of Abstract and Proposal;

Fifth: The 400 to 500 Word Abstract.

To submit an abstract online follow these steps:

  • 1) Go to our webpage: www.alternative-academia.net
  • 2) Select your Symposium of choice within the list of annual events (listed by period and city)
  • 3) Go to LOG IN at the top of the page
  • 4) Create a User Name and Password for our system and log in
  • 5) Click on the Call for Papers for the Symposium
  • 6) Go to the end of the Call for Papers page and click on the First Step of Submission Process button
  • 7) Follow the instructions provided for completing the abstract submission process

For every abstract proposal submitted, we acknowledge receipt. If you do not receive a reply from us within three days, you should assume the submission process was not completed successfully. Please try again or contact our technical support for clarifications.

All presentation and paper proposals that address these questions and issues will be fully considered and evaluated. Evaluation of abstract submissions will be ongoing, from the opening date of Wednesday 29th of October, 2014. All Prospective Delegates can expect a reply time to their submission of three weeks.

Accepted abstracts will require a full draft paper by Monday 4th of May, 2015. Papers are for a 20 minute presentation, 8 to 10 pages long, double spaced, Times New Roman 12. All papers presented at the symposium are eligible for publication as part of a digital or paperback book.

We invite colleagues and people interested in participating to disseminate this call for papers. Thank you for sharing and cross-listing where and whenever appropriate.

Symposium Coordinators

  • Wendy O'Brien, Professor of Social and Political Theory, School of Liberal Studies, Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Email: Wendy.Obrien@humber.ca
  • Antonio Cuadrado-Fernandez, Independent Researcher, Ecopoetry Instructor, Norwich, England, Email: acfernandez36@gmail.com
  • Alejandro Cervantes-Carson, General Coordinator International Network for Alternative Academia, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Informational Note

Alternative Academia is an international network of intellectuals, academics, independent scholars and practitioners committed to creating spaces, both within and beyond traditional academe, for creative, trans-disciplinary and critical thinking. The Network serves to facilitate experimental and collaborative encounters that blur the boundaries and broaden the limits of how issues, themes and ideas can be articulated and reconfigured. Dialogue, discussion and deliberation define both the methods employed and the ethics upheld by this network.

Our annual symposia are forums that foster the development of new frames of reference and innovative structures for the production and expansion of knowledge. These meetings are small in scale, intensely interactive and based on a dialogical model of academic engagement throughout the entire period of each symposium. All delegates are presenters and constitute a critical and engaged audience for all delegate presentations.

INAA is an independent, autonomous and not for profit organization, based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Registration Number: ESG65895088.


  • Betahaus BCN - Carrer de Vilafranca 7, Gràcia
    Barcelona, Kingdom of Spain (08024)


  • Monday, April 13, 2015


  • Citiy, urban, landscape, art, bond, migration, globalization, planning, cosmopolitanism, narrative construction, space


  • Alejandro Cervantes-Carson
    courriel : acc [at] alternative-academia [dot] net

Information source

  • Alejandro Cervantes-Carson
    courriel : acc [at] alternative-academia [dot] net


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Global Cities and Cosmopolitan Dreams », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, December 09, 2014, https://calenda.org/309255

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