The Urban as Emergent Key Concept for Media Theory

It is increasingly clear that “the urban” has arrived as a key concept for media and cultural studies – or at least some corners thereof. From the urban motilities of everyday mediated experience to the urban environments of media technologies and forms, an interest in cities seems to have opened new avenues that bring media and cultural studies into new cross-disciplinary conversations.

This roundtable brings together contributions from five scholars (Zlatan Krajina, André Jansson, Myria Georgiou, Giorgia Aiello and Scott Rodgers) that have brought together media and urban theory in their own work. Its purpose is to provide a forum of discussion and debate around how the urban – and related concepts such as the city, urbanism and urban space – have travelled in and through media theory and research. Too often, the urban, as adjective or noun, is left unpacked in media and cultural studies. The premise here is that the time has come to take the urban seriously, not only as an emergent key concept for media theory, but a sensitizing lens for media research and practice on-the-ground.

Each of the contributors will offer an initial short essay responding to the roundtable introduction below. Following this, the contributors will offer further responses.

The Urban as Emergent Key Concept for Media Theory: An Introduction (November 15, 2016)

In this roundtable introduction , guest editor Scott Rodgers introduces the main thematic issues and questions to be addressed.

Back to the City (November 15, 2016)

In the first essay, Zlatan Krajina suggests media studies returns to its roots in the city, to rekindle its early, less disciplinary, instincts.

Mediatization and Urban Struggle (November 15, 2016)

In the second essay, André Jansson connects the ambiguity of “the urban” with that of “mediatization”, considering their relationships through the example of urban exploration.

Right to the City, or Compulsion to Connect? (November 15, 2016)

In the third essay, Myria Georgiou reflects on the politicized relationships between the right to the city and emergent compulsions to communicate digitally.

A Visual-Material Approach to the City (November 15, 2016)

In the fourth essay, Giorgia Aiello presents a visual-material approach to the communicative dimensions of urban built environments, linking both mediation and mediatization.

Theorizing Media after the Urban Revolution (November 15, 2016)

In the final opening essay, Scott Rodgers argues that conceiving of the urban as processual, amorphous, relational and unbounded provokes a critical rethinking around why, where and how we study urbanized media.

Seeking Place in Mediated Urban Space (November 25, 2016)

In the first roundtable response, Zlatan Krajina argues for a phenomenology of mediated place-making, as not only investing space with routines and familiarity, but the interaction of institutions and citizens.

Decentring the Urban (November 28, 2016)

In the second response, Andre Jansson argues that we must look beyond the confines of urban centres and incorporate the voices and lived experiences of those who do not fit our urban-centric cultures of connectivity.

Reflecting on the Media City’s Stranger (December 2, 2016)

In the third response, Myria Georgiou asks if the mediation of ordinary urbanity can go beyond rearticulating the existing order, thereby opening up spaces of thinking of the stranger beyond Otherness.

Researching the Urban as a Human Endeavour (December 5, 2016)

In the fourth roundtable response, Giorgia Aiello suggests that media theory offers a distinctive understanding of the nature and potential of the urban as a human endeavour.

Doubly Displacing Media and the City (December 9, 2016)

In this concluding response, Scott Rodgers explores the roundtable’s apparent consensus that the intersection of media and the urban should be approached by counter-intuitively displacing both of these key concepts.