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Cities, cultures and engagements

Villes, cultures et engagements

Journal des anthropologues

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Published on Monday, February 18, 2019


Aujourd'hui, les usages ambigus et multiformes du mot « culture », par des politiques urbaines dans des contextes très éloignés les uns des autres, font souvent référence à la volonté des acteurs publics et privés d'agir positivement sur l'image et l'identité d'une ville, tout en déléguant aux acteurs culturels et notamment aux artistes des fonctions jusque-là dévolues au secteur public. S'interroger sur le sens et les usages pluriels du mot culture permet ainsi de questionner le poids croissant de la compétition interurbaine et le marketing urbain, ainsi que sur leurs conséquences sur les espaces des villes.




Today, the ambiguous and multi-form uses of the word « culture» by urban politics in very different contexts, often reveals the will of the public and private actors to work positively on the image and the identity of a city, while delegating to cultural actors, in particular to artists, the functions so far devolved to the public sector. Reflecting upon the senses and the plural uses of the word culture allows us to question the increasing impact of the interurban competition and the urban marketing, as well as their consequences on the spaces of cities. In this regard, public policies which seem to adhere, at least partially, to a neo-liberal vision of cities, mask behind words as “creative city”, “smart city, “participation” or “living together”, an urban model that is sometimes exclusive and excluding. Ambitious so called “cultural” programs are at the core of an attempt to reinvent cities in terms of identity and image, often through urban design, secure pedestrian public spaces, often conceived for privileged public, or even consensual spaces and spaces of conciliation which aim at neutralizing conflicts. This special issue of Journal des anthropologues reflects on the actors of these urban transformations in connection with the supposed, invented or imposed identity of a city, as well as with the use, or the instrumentalization, of the “culture” as a catalyst for major urban change. For that very reason, we aim to question the plural uses of this word “culture” and of its meanings in different urban contexts. We also invite contributors to consider the potential resistances, the responses or oppositions to these initiatives.

Because of their flexible, tactical and creative character, art and culture are indeed often apprehended as means of commitment and disruption in the city. De facto, today we witness the resurgence of complex and overlapping forms of commitment within cities such as cultural collectives and associations – often interdisciplinary –, which gather artists, architects and/or designers, but also researchers, or diverse institutions. These groups can be institutionalized or recomposed along specific issues (militancy, interest for social questions, etc.). Their posture can go from opposition to collaboration with institutions and individuals who live in cities. In this context, the « inhabitants » – a term of which the use will also be questioned – are invited to participate to the reinvention of the image and the identity of their city. These new forms of commitment invite us to wonder about the implications of this « commitment » and to highlight the processes of coproduction of urban spaces. In the context of the contemporary cities, these concerned individuals or groups are invited by public and private actors to assume a multitude of functions that are not only aesthetic but also economic, social or even political. The question is then to know how these actors choose to answer to these – often participative – injunctions, sometimes by diverting them according to their own objectives.

One might question, in particular, the respective roles of the subjects which transform the city as well as the possible ambiguity of theirs postures. How do they take position in regards with the issues raised by the politics and the institutions? How do they answer to the challenge of the urban marketing? To what extent do these actors contribute to redesign the urban spaces today in various regions of the world? How are these “cultures” embodied in urban spaces and places?

This issue is addressed to researchers in human and social sciences and aim at promoting interdisciplinary collaborations.

Submission guidelines

Article proposals will include a title, a 2 500 - 4 000 characters’ summary, and 5 key-words.

The contributors have to mention their first and last name, their position and institutional affiliation, and their email address.

Proposals should be sent to the two coordinators of the issue and to the Journal:

  • Pauline Guinard: pauline.guinard@ens.fr
  • Barbara Morovich: barbaramorovich@yahoo.fr
  • Journal des anthropologues : afa@msh-paris.fr


  • Deadline for = article proposals submissions: Mai 15th, 2019
  • Answer to proposals: June 2019
  • Deadline for first draft articles: November 15th, 2019
  • Deadline for reworked articles June 15th, 2020
  • Publication: November 2020



  • Wednesday, May 15, 2019


  • Villes, culture, engagement, politique urbaine, art, participation


  • Barbara Morovich
    courriel : barbara [dot] morovich [at] strasbourg [dot] archi [dot] fr
  • Guinard Pauline
    courriel : pauline [dot] guinard [at] ens [dot] fr

Information source

  • Barbara Morovich
    courriel : barbara [dot] morovich [at] strasbourg [dot] archi [dot] fr


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

To cite this announcement

« Cities, cultures and engagements », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, February 18, 2019, https://calenda.org/561645

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