Text to Street: Urban Cultural Studies as Theorization and Practice

This is an editorial I co-wrote with Araceli Masterson-Algar of Augustana College for the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies.



This editorial questions the accepted view among militant researchers in the academy and radical activists outside of it that activism is not possible within higher education. The notion that theory is not practice fails to see that humanistic inquiry does not take place outside of material reality. Thinking and doing cannot be compartmentalized. They form part of greater cultural processes. This editorial argues that research and courses addressing urban cultural studies can offer the space to imagine activism both inside and outside our classrooms and institutions.



urban cultural studies


theory and practice

higher education

militant researchers





The method of urban cultural studies and the practice of activism have a common purpose. Benjamin Fraser, in the first of his two-part editorial launching this journal, argues that the task of the urban cultural studies critic is, first, to reveal the hidden relations of cultural production that alienate us from society, and, second, to transform these alienating social relations in order to make the urban revolution possible (Fraser 2014: 13). Paris-based sociologist and social theorist Mauricio Lazzarato takes the position that ‘the activist is simply someone who introduces a discontinuity in what exists’ and ‘creates a bifurcation in the flow of words, of desires, of images, to put them at the service of the multiplicity’s power of articulation…’ (qtd. in Holmes 2009: 396-97). Cultural geographers Duncan Fuller and Rob Kitchin summarize that what connects research (they are referring to radical/critical geography, but they could just as well have been alluding to urban cultural studies) and activism is ‘a shared commitment to: expose the socio-spatial processes that (re)produce inequalities between people and places; challenge and change those inequalities; and bridge the divide between theorisation and praxis’ (Fuller and Kitchin 2004: 5).

Militant researchers in the academy, those who participate side by side with protesters in social movements (see Juris 2008; Ross 2013; Shukaitis and Graeber 2007), and radical activists outside of the academy (i.e. Colectivo Situaciones 2003) question whether academic writing from institutions of higher education can partake of the social changes necessary to bring about the urban revolution. Thereof, a journal like this one might be described as not political enough, too theoretical, counter to the practice of commoning, and overall, inherently exclusionary. Distinguished Professor of Geography Don Mitchell at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University offers a counterpoint to this reading. He asserts that Leftist research ‘can be “active” when it provides a new way of seeing, a new way of understanding the social and power relations within which people live and work’ (Mitchell 2004: 26). Thus, while we agree that the university is a deeply flawed institution, immersed in the structural inequalities that permeate our societies at large, our relationship to it should not be one of aloof disdain but rather, of tactical collaboration in search of new forms of understanding, and responding to neoliberal capital.

Philosopher and long-life activist Grace Lee Boggs recently stated, ‘I don’t know what the next Revolution is going to be like, but you might be able to imagine it, if your imagination were rich enough.’ Boggs’ call for ‘imagining’ is grounded in the city of Detroit. Scott Kurashige, co-author in her last book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century, describes this text as ‘molded by the city’ (10). Above all, Boggs’ invitation to ‘imagine’ speaks to the necessary ties between our ways of thinking, and our ‘doing’. In order ‘to read’ into our societies we have no option but to turn to what we ‘do’ and ‘make’, and these processes are necessarily cultural. As theory and practice, Urban Cultural Studies invites us to think on how social processes find their expression in and through space. Doing so demands reflection on the ties between our ‘thinking’ and our ‘doing’—that is, on our responsibilities to our profession–as employees of institutions of higher education, researchers, and educators—, and to society at large. If there is any hope of working towards the critical learning environments necessary for responding to structural inequalities and instigating social transformation, we must be able to imagine activism within higher education, and work from the premise that research and courses addressing urban cultural studies can offer the space to do so, both inside and outside our classrooms and institutions.


Step-Word-Thought #1. The Cultural Within the Urban

Undervaluing the cultural within the urban implies that cultural expression, including what we widely understand as ‘art,’ does not contribute to our imaginative and material grasp of society. Far from minimizing the material significance of art, French critical theorist Henri Lefebvre argues that, in order to understand what a body is capable of, we must ‘put art at the service of the urban’ (Lefebvre 1996: 173). In other words, we must use ‘the vast store of non-formal knowledge embedded in poetry, music, dance, and theatre’ (Lefebvre 1994: 407) in order to both understand and fight urban alienation.

Andrew Ross, a professor in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, distances himself from humanities (textual) criticism in favor of ‘scholarly reporting – a hybrid blend of investigative journalism and field ethnography’ (Ross 2013: 8).

Conversely, the academic praxis of every author in JUCS is that of textual criticism (Afinoguénova 2014; Heise 2014; Illas 2014; Jefferson 2014; Kooistra 2014; Osborne 2014; Schwartz 2014; Scott 2014; Simon 2014; Stein 2014; Thornbury 2014). And those of us who do ethnography (Klausen 2014; Lamb 2014, Schifani 2014; Silk 2014; Vilaseca 2014) understand the interviews as one more layer into the ties between textual analysis, cultural production, and lived experience (geocaching, parkour, autonomous networks, the Olympic spectacle, and audio-visual architectural mapping, respectively). Thus, in the above contributions, interviews are not understood as means to prove a point, but rather, as one more means to better understand cultural production as inseparable from human experience, and from the specific context from which it emanates. For Ross, the above approach is, simply put, not conducive to ‘militant research.’ Although he recognizes that humanists and qualitative social scientists can undertake research ‘that ends up championing some cause or idea, or expounding on behalf of others’ (8), he argues that they must not only step ‘into the ethnographic field’, but ‘into the realm of militant research,’ which ‘entails the researchers’ active and committed participation in the political movement of their subjects’ (8).

Ross makes no distinction between the armchair activist in the humanities and the ethnographer who is a mere participant-observer. According to him, neither puts his/her physical body on the line, and, hence, cannot possibly affect material change. We disagree. Ross assumes that human actions—such as those of the ethnographer, or the ‘writer’—can take place ‘outside’ of the social and cultural, when in fact, this is impossible. Intended or not, human actions are necessarily social/cultural. We should ask, rather, how these subjects—including Ross’ militant researchers—conduct their work (how they ‘do’ it). In other words, putting one’s body on the line hardly translates into working towards a more just society. Militant action, without the ability to ‘read’ and ‘analyze’ society—its cultural production and output—could, as it has too often done, contribute to the strengthening of the very social hierarchies it seeks to counter.

Ross essentially creates a continuum from humanities (textual) criticism to militant research with more value placed on the latter, under the premise that physical presence will more likely lead to political action. It seems then, that Ross would describe social science research, from the design of a study to the analysis of the data, as tools for the creation of meaning. Yet, he fails to see that the purpose of humanistic inquiry is precisely to read into HOW those meanings are created and disseminated. In that, Ross ends up advocating for the role of the researcher as ‘scientist’ vis-à-vis an assumed objective reality, rather than as part and parcel of complex cultural and social processes. By doing so, Ross is reinforcing the very State practices he seeks to counter.[i]

Finally, we want to question Ross’ call for physical presence as condition to ‘militant research.’ For this, we turn once again to Grace Lee Boggs:

One June 27, 2010 I celebrated by ninety-fifth birthday. Over the past few years, I have become much less mobile. I no longer bound from my chair to fetch a book or article to show a visitor. I have two hearing aids, three pairs of glasses, and very few teeth. But I still have most of my marbles, mainly because I am good at learning, arguably the most important qualification for a movement activist’ (2011: 28).

Following on the above reflection, activism, rooted in ‘learning’—the drive to understand—is not necessarily contingent on physical presence. Furthermore, regardless of whether we are perceived militant researchers or armchair activists, in order to write an article, ‘distance’ is often conducive to self-reflexivity. Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto Linda Hutcheon’s redefinition of parody is helpful here. She states that “the collective weight of parodic practice suggests a redefinition of parody as repetition with critical distance that allows ironic signaling of difference at the very heart of similarity” (Hutcheon 1988: 26).

The praxis of academic writing is a parodic practice. That is, writing an article about the city is a way of walking through it. French critical theorist Michel de Certeau talks of the cartography of the feet, one that reconstructs an erased and forgotten geography as one walks through the neighborhood. It is a walking-narrative that maps the informal knowledge that comes from living in the city. In this way, the invisible is given materiality. That is, the idea of the city ‘becomes’ steps, words, thoughts—in other words, cultural expression. De Certeau explains:

Here, there used to be a bakery.’ ‘That’s where old lady Dupuis used to live.’ It is striking here that the places people live in are like the presences of diverse absences. What can be seen designates what is no longer there: ‘you see, here there used to be …,’ but it can no longer be seen. Demonstratives indicate the invisible identities of the visible: it is the very definition of a place, in fact, that it is composed by these series of displacements and effects among the fragmented strata that form it and that it plays on these moving layers. (De Certeau 1984: 108)

The critical distance, the imitation, the deliberate and unavoidable contrast with the ‘idea’ of what that space is, is precisely what allows for a deeper understanding of our urban context. To paraphrase George Bataille, experience cannot be communicated without distance. We must be at the same time close to and far from the action. Space is, after all, the outcome of the interrelation of the local with larger scales, and connects social actors with spaces that reach well beyond a specific ‘location’. Thus, as social actors, the work we conduct from our institutions of higher education can reach well beyond its confines, definitions, and regulations.

Drawing on Lefebvre and Félix Guattari, we contend that any thought in the form of poetry, music, performance art, the plastic arts, graffiti, urban art, cinema, and the scholarly article (to name a few) that also defies totalizing structures has the potential to incite people to take action in the material world. If we expand the definition of the body to include not only a physical organism but also its thoughts, ideas, art, and the ways it relates to the world—and returning to Boggs’ call for ‘imagination’—, then, to talk about what a body is capable of in the material world is really to talk about the interaction of various bodies at once. The potential for social transformation resulting from the encounter between two or more physical bodies is no different from the potential for social transformation resulting from the encounter between a thought-body, idea-body or art-body and a physical body. New expressions in the form of thoughts, ideas, and art have the potential to incite bodies to act in unexpected ways. This is the platform from which we explore the potential of urban cultural studies in social transformation, and within our institutions of higher education.


Step-Word-Thought #2. Urban Cultural Studies Within the Institution

A growing interest in anarchism in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Australia, as evidenced in the recent publications of anthologies like Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age (2004) and Contemporary Anarchist Studies: An Introductory Anthology of Anarchy in the Academy (2009) along with the launching of international, peer-reviewed, open-access journals like Anarchists Developments in Cultural Studies in 2010 and research groups like the North American Anarchist Studies Network and the Anarchist Studies Network in the United Kingdom, has roused many militant researchers in higher education to act in the following unexpected way: they proclaim that the most effective tactic to resist the corporate agenda of the University, one that reduces knowledge to a product that can be consumed and bought by students and sold to research and development divisions of corporations, is to leave and/or eliminate the University.

Borrowing from the anarchist tradition that asserts that the mediation of state or corporate forms is unnecessary for social change, Mark Purcell, Associate Professor of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington, argues for replacing, in the long term, universities with free, autonomous educational spaces (Purcell 2013). These are creative spaces in which to share and produce knowledge, language (collective speech), technology, science, and culture as common goods for self-enrichment. Colectivo Situaciones, an Argentinian think tank, reiterates that it is necessary to talk about escape from the University because it is very difficult to make commons in such settings: ‘For us, emancipatory thought does not look to seize the state apparatus in order to implement change; rather, it looks to flee those sites, to renounce instituting any centre or centrality’ (Colectivo Situaciones 2003). In addition to fleeing or escaping the University, Shukaitis and Graeber speak of shattering institutional structures. For them, the act of smashing state institutions is what creates constituent power (Shukaitis and Graeber 2007: 32).

However, Deleuze and Guattari argue that ‘staying stratified—organized, signified, subjected—is not the worst that can happen; the worst that can happen is if you throw the strata into demented or suicidal collapse…’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 161). In other words, experimentation with the creation of free, autonomous educational spaces is good, but not wild experimentation that suddenly and completely eliminates the University. We should be wary of such violent separations. Therefore, instead of an escape from institutions, we should consider escapes within the institution.

For example, what would happen if an anarchist cloaked him or herself in the sign of the academic, entered the University, and turned the sign on its head by infusing the figure of the academic as well as the University with a set of anarchistic practices? According to Gary Rolfe, Professor of Nursing at Swansea University, this is already happening at most universities. He has coined the term ‘paraversity’ to describe the ‘subversive, virtual community of dissensus that exists alongside and in parallel to the corporate university’ (Rolfe 2014: 1). For Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, the role of the academic-activist is ‘to be in but not of’ the university (Moten and Harney 2004: 101).

In a series of lectures on the role of the intellectual, Edward Said (1994) also expressed the need to work within the institution, as opposed to in it or for it. For Said, the major threat to intellectual work is ‘professionalism’:

The particular threat to the intellectual today, whether in the West or the non-Western world, is not the academy, not the suburbs, not the appalling commercialism of journalism and publishing houses, but rather, an attitude that I call professionalism. […] Thinking of your work as an intellectual as something you do for a living, between the hours of 9 and 5 with one eye on the clock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper professional behavior –not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits, making yourself marketable and above all presentable, hence uncontroversial and unpolitical and ‘objective’ (73).

Said encourages a move from the question of ‘who’ is the intellectual to an analysis of ‘how’ is an intellectual, turning attention to the intellectual activity itself (13). Under this light, working in academia is not on a par with being an intellectual. The latter does not work in the institution. Instead, s/he is in a permanent state of exile, ‘moving away from centralizing authorities towards the margins’ and seeking ‘beyond the conventional and the comfortable’ (63). Similarly, Mike Neary and Sarah Amsler describe the intellectual as the outsider-insider who continually questions the supposedly self-evident way of running a university. In a similar spirit of rebellion as that inspired in the Occupy Movement, these professors see intellectual activity as the venue for alternatives to the University’s corporate mission (Neary and Amsler 2012). More concretely, they address the need to challenge disciplinary boundaries, and counter the belief that commons cannot be made in the University.

One of the central tasks of the intellectual, argues Said, is the effort to break down ‘reductive categories that are so limiting to social thought’ (1994:xi). JUCS emerges from the effort to work through the confines between the social sciences and the humanities, between space as geographical location, academic writing, and the cultural/lived expression of the streets –that is, between steps, words, and thoughts.

To us, this journal speaks to some of the ways in which a space of commons can be made in the University. As a for-pay-journal however, JUCS, it is true, excludes those who cannot afford the fee to subscribe. It is not an open-access journal and, in this sense, it can be addressed as a type of enclosure of the commons. Yet, JUCS has opened up a new space of expression in which both humanists and social scientists can come together to discuss urban topics and themes. By encouraging the combination of close-readings of the representation of cities in cultural products with more social-science focused urban studies approaches, JUCS helps to bridge the division between humanities and geography. It also maintains a multi-authored blog with free podcasts of interviews with many of the authors found in the journal. In these podcasts, the authors share much of the same information they discuss in their original articles. Since its inception in 2012, the blog has been viewed over 100,000 times by people around the globe creating a truly international community.

In fact, there are many communities of friends that share and create commons in the University. These communities embody ways of relating to the world and to others that are dictated not by the market, work, or the State, but by chance that opens up new relational possibilities. These communities of friends are the undercommons of the University. They are affects or intensive states that move the body to action and that articulate our research to our pedagogy and activism. For example, Benjamin Fraser’s Gran Vía Madrid Digital Humanities project—one that he created with graduate students from the College of Charleston in which he and his students augmented a Google map of the Gran Vía with videos about the famous avenue and with texts analyzing various cultural products in which said avenue appears—inspired Stephen to try something similar that he would never have otherwise attempted. His students from Northern Illinois University read El francotirador paciente by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, El rey del mambo by Johari Gautier Carmona, De Madrid al cielo by Ismael Grasa, and La conquista del aire by Belén Gopegui in order to examine the social, cultural, political, and economic importance of squatters, graffiti artists, and indebted individuals in contemporary Spain. The students then added texts and videos which included historical and cultural information about the urban sites visited and experienced by the characters of the novels as well as insightful, thesis-driven commentaries to two Google maps of Madrid and one of Barcelona. This also influenced Araceli’s collaboration with faculty in the department of Geography towards the design and implementation of a blended-learning course addressing cultural expression, human mobility and gentrification in a local neighborhood.

In terms of scholarly production, communities of academic friends push us to walk-write-think in different ways. As an example, Stephen was contacted to contribute to an edited volume about a topic with which he was quite familiar—protest movements—but from a new perspective—generations. Similarly, Araceli’s ongoing work with ‘migration’ radically changed after various colleagues asked her to contribute to volumes on transportation and mobility. These novel perspectives exposed us to innovative ways of thinking and coaxed us out of our comfort zones to walk-write-think in ways we had never before.

Making connections that are normally unable to be made by crossing disciplines occurs through an alliance of friends that share learning as common goods for self-enrichment, and as the necessary articulation of theorization and praxis. The point here is that all of this occurred within the University. Drawing on Guattari, Jack Bratich calls individuals who undertake such connections ‘machinic intellectuals’ (Bratich 2007: 147) because they, at the same time, live and construct the coordinates of an alternate university that embodies the value practices of commoning and not those of capital—a closed, totalizing structure.

In other words, we should live the University ‘as if’ it were a space free of neoliberal policies, while simultaneously critiquing it as such. In this way, as Purcell and the Participatory Geography Research Group (PyGyRG) of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) so eloquently put it, ‘we can sow the seeds of schole in the cracks of existing institutions’ (Mason and Purcell 2014: 95). The term schole to which Purcell and then PyGyRG refer hearkens back to Aristotle. It is ‘the lifelong struggle to develop our human potential’ (Purcell 2013). However, Purcell adds to Aristotle’s definition by explaining that his version of schole is realized only during a person’s free time. Although he does not make the connection, Purcell’s schole is the equivalent of the autonomist Marxist category of immaterial laborer. Both the practitioner of schole and the immaterial laborer are examples of living unpaid labor. They both share their creative productivity as a common practice instead of a proprietary one, thus overflowing the boundaries of capital labor. Therefore, when academics share their work openly and freely, they are spreading a spirit of rebellion –that is, new spaces to walk-write-think- within the University. In that, we are not alone, as evidenced in the history of social and political movements.


Beyond Urban Cultural Studies: Understanding the Academic-Activist Relation from Activists

 We started this editorial by stating that many so-called militant intellectuals inside the academy and radical activists outside of it (anarchists) challenge the belief that academic writing within the University can produce real social change. Just as Said and others countered this position within academia, so do a growing number of activists outside of it.

We should take notice of two new political parties in Spain that have been formed by grassroots activists, and which work from the belief in tactical compromises and temporary political alliances: the Citizens’ Network X Party and Podemos. For Simona Levi, Free Culture activist and now founder and candidate of the Citizens’ Network X Party, the political organization that will be able to create social, economic, and political change in the future will be a blend of state-interventionism and anarchism. She advocates articulating an anarchist position from within the political system instead of outside or alongside it. Despite being formed only three months before the May 2014 European Parliamentary Elections, Podemos, another grassroots-inspired political party, earned 1.2 million votes and 5 seats in the European Parliament.

Both parties criticize fellow activists who believe that working through state power is not necessary for social change. It seems that, in light of the success of the Citizens’ Network X Party and Podemos, the key to social transformation lies in revisiting Vladimir Lenin’s concept of entrism, the entering in to a larger organization by a small revolutionary group. In his famous pamphlet “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder published in April 1920, Lenin clarifies his concept of entrism by referring to the workers’ movement in Britain. He calls for British communists to form a temporary electoral bloc with reformist Labour leaders Henderson and Snowden in order to defeat the more conservative Liberal-Tory alliance. He explains the revolutionary logic behind this type of cooperation in the following way: “I wanted with my vote to support Henderson in the same way as the rope supports a hanged man” (70). The collaboration is a means to eventually strangle to death bourgeois dominance from the inside.

The reasoning above parallels our earlier reflection on the making of commons within the University. Yet, the challenges are too many to fit in this editorial. Working through disciplinary boundaries is a tasking venture, and often comes at high personal and professional cost. Employment and funding opportunities rarely work in favor of those scholars in the interstices of various disciplines. Once hired, the challenges are many, and particularly salient for those with adjunct positions, fellowships, and other untenured faculty. This is particularly delicate when taking into account that the tendency in higher education is to favor temporary positions over tenure lines. Further, the publishing industry is more often than not nested in disciplinary boundaries, as are most of the sources for funding. Because scientific research can produce patents and products that will generate revenue for the university, grants (the markers used to evaluate if research has an impact), are more often given to the sciences than to the humanities. Investing in theory does not have a high financial return, which makes it less appealing, but mostly, professionally risky. Even within urban studies, projects that grapple with the big issues concerning urban life and its representation are underfunded compared with research focused on the gathering of statistical information about cities. The end result, according to Andy Merrifield, is the depoliticalization of urban studies, in particular, and of the humanities in general.

The refusal to fund projects that ask the big questions is a way to minimize political action because these are the projects that truly have the potential to incite bodies to act in unexpected ways, not those that measure statistics. The marginalization of research whose final outcome will be an academic article that criticizes the inequalities produced by capitalism is actually an admission of its possible power. The cycle feeds itself, and its impenetrability–real and apparent—can certainly be discouraging. Yet, we are convinced that the only means to understand where and how we become part of this world is through a commitment to both theory and practice, understood as part and parcel of each other.

Malcolm Compitello, Benjamin Fraser, and Susan Larson, in a recent publication in the ADFL Bulletin ask those of us working in so-called ‘Hispanic Studies’ to ‘confront our canons.’ The assumption that those working in this area of study constitute an academic ‘community’ has, they argue, reinforced the ‘canon’, not in terms of content, but in praxis. Bridging the Humanities with scholarship in the Social Sciences, they branch off the words of David Harvey: ‘Well-founded communities often exclude, define themselves against others, erect all sorts of keep-out signs (if not tangible walls)…As a consequence, community has often been a barrier to rather than a facilitator of progressive social change’ (qted. in Compitello, Fraser, and Larson 2014: 24-25).[ii] In an invitation to inquiry into the ‘relation of word, image, and the world’, their critique extends the analysis of the canon from what we teach to how we ‘do’ it–from ‘canon’ and ‘community’ to the intellectual activity itself. Their analysis reads ‘the canon’ as inseparable from the processes that make it, widening the focus to what the scholar/educator ‘does’, and under what conditions.

Despite the challenges, we believe in the possibilities (in terms of both, theory and practice) of working with intellectuals with a variety of trainings, disseminating our work widely and in creative forms appropriate to a wide range of audiences, and defining ourselves as ‘learners’ at work, rather than as ‘experts’ in a ‘field’. Altogether, these are venues to unravel our knots to the various layers of power working to channel our work, to confine our intellectual activity to a job description, JUCS to a ‘text’, and our urban cultural studies activity to a discipline. Our imagination is, we believe, rich enough to take on those steps-words-thoughts.

[i] Mark Solovey’s critical approach to the social sciences, to offer one example, can be helpful in this regard.

[ii] The turn from studying a ‘community’ to questioning how it is, and how it becomes perceived as such is particularly relevant in scholarship committed to activism. Stuart Aitken and Deborah Martin among others, alert to the dangers of research interventions that do not think through concepts such as ‘neighborhood’, and ‘community.’ This line of inquiry is urgent, particularly given the move in higher education towards the implementation of ‘service learning’ and ‘community engagement’ opportunities in the curriculum, largely assumed to be ‘positive’ learning experiences, that in turn are also assumed to offer venues to ‘better’ society. There is a lack of inquiry on how these ‘learning initiatives’, which celebrate students’ physical presence in a ‘community’, often become venues to affirm the very social hierarchies they seeks to counter; for instance, by turning to certain sectors of society (often marked by race, ethnicity, class, etc.) as ‘grounds’ for observation and intervention.



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Shukaitis, S., Graeber, D., and Biddle, E. (2007), Constituent imagination: militant investigations//collective theorization, Oakland, CA: AK Press.

Silk, M. (2014), ‘The London 2012 Olympics: The cultural politics of urban regeneration’, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 1: 2, pp. 273-293.

Simon, S. (2014), ‘Disaster, pre-emptive security, and urban space in the post-9/11 New York City of Cloverfield and The Visitor’, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 1: 1, pp. 19-41.

Solovey, M. (2001), ‘Project Camelot and the 1960s Epistemological Revolution: Rethinking the Politics –Patronage- Social Science Nexus.’ Social Studies of Science 31 (2):171-206.

Stein, E. (2014), ‘The worst tourists in the world: Gangsters, heterotopia and the space of global capital In Bruges’, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies 1: 3, forthcoming.

Thornbury, B.E. (2014), ‘Tokyo, gender and mobility: Tracking fictional characters on real monorails, trains, subways and trams,’ Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 1: 1, pp. 43-64.

Vilaseca, S.L. (2014), ‘The projection on the wall: What audio-visual architectural mapping says about Catalan identity’, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 1: 2, pp. 215-234.

Suggested citation

Masterson-Algar, A. and S. L. Vilaseca (2015), ‘Text to Street: Urban Cultural Studies as Theorization and Practice’, Journal of Urban Cultural Studies, 2:1-2, pp. 3-14.

Contributor details

Araceli Masterson-Algar is an associate editor of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies and Assistant Professor at Augustana College (Illinois, USA). Much of her published work addresses the ties between the urban, cultural expression, and migration dynamics. She has conducted extensive research on Ecuador–Spain migrations, and specifically on the interrelations between transnational social processes, cultural production, and urban planning in both Quito and Madrid.


Augustana College, 639 38th Street, Rock Island, Illinois, 61201, USA.

E-mail: aracelimasterson@gmail.com


Stephen Luis Vilaseca is an associate editor of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies and an Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University (Illinois, USA). He is the author of Barcelonan Okupas: Squatter Power! (2013) as well as of articles in the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2006), Letras Hispanas: Revista de Literatura y Cultura (2009), the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies (2010), Transitions: Journal of Franco-Iberian Studies (2012), the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (2014), and the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies (2015).


Northern Illinois University, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, DeKalb, Illinois, 60115-2854, USA.

E-mail: svilaseca@niu.edu