Call for Proposals: "Teaching the City"–Special Issue of Teaching and Learning Anthropology

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Call for Proposals: Special Issue–Teaching the City

Teaching and Learning Anthropology Journal

 In what is considered by many an urban century, the position of many universities within cities—or outside of them—has implications for how we teach and learn. Although cities and urban life were not traditionally the domain of anthropologists, we have long engaged with questions of urban spaces and socialities. At the intersection of these two observations, this special issue explores how our experiences in, of, around, and between urban spaces influence how we teach the city.  

But what is a city anyway? While population size and density are often the legal definition of an urban center, ethnography has always pushed us to think beyond demographics to consider what the city means to people, and how the city is experienced, sensed, and produced through collective experiences.  As AbdouMaliq Simone (2004) explains, cities are sites of negotiation, always in flux and in a state of becoming. Anthropologists have explored myriad conceptual frames for and sites of such becoming, including housing and gentrification, infrastructure and governance, precarity and informality, public space, the distribution and conservation of environmental resources, and globalization and migration.  Within these domains, we have shown an enduring interest in questions of belonging in the city–particularly along the axes of race, gender, class, citizenship, and ability, among other social markers.  As with our research, our approaches to teaching the city are also always in flux, prompting ongoing efforts to foreground human experience and develop new pedagogical practices.

This collection for Teaching and Learning Anthropology asks how teaching prompts us to think in new ways about the urban, and how the urban prompts us to teach differently.  It queries how teaching leads us to theorize the urban, its sites, conditions, and processes, while also exploring what novel approaches can be employed to convey new knowledge about and theorizations of the city.  The volume will be organized into two sections: the first will explore the conceptual frames through which we teach about and experience the city and the second will focus on the methods we use to teach about, in, or of the city. 

Questions/Themes to Consider:

We welcome submissions that explore any of the following questions as well as those that address related topics or issues:  

●      How do new socio-cultural  trends, shifts, developments, or disruptions in urban worlds impact teaching about the city? 

●      As cities become associated with technological phenomena and digitally focused economies, how do such connections re-shape the ways in which we teach about urban lives? 

●      How do student experiences and perspectives shape our teaching about urban lives and about cities themselves? 

●      What approaches, lessons, and activities encourage students to see urban spaces and socialities in new and more critical ways? 

●      What new research methods are important to incorporate and expand upon when teaching the city? What research methods are enduring? 

●      How are digital and virtual methods reshaping the ways in which we teach about cities? What are the opportunities and limits to using digital and virtual methods for studying and teaching about the city?

●      What urban voices and lives are difficult to bring into classrooms? 

●      What perspectives and experiences are omitted from the urban scholarship and resources used in teaching? 

●      How has the use and commodification of concepts (for example in the movement of work on place-making into urban design, marketing, etc.) influenced teaching in our field?

●    How might experiences of failure or disruption while teaching become generative for urban pedagogies?

●    How does the exposure to urban theories and learning activities reshape student perceptions of their own circuits within, between, and beyond urban spaces? We would love to hear from undergraduate students about their experiences learning about, in, and around cities.

●    We welcome reflections or data-based analysis on the relationships between universities, their city-based location (or not), and the urban experiences of their students (or not), as these connections shape the ways in which we teach and learn anthropology.

Contribution Categories: We invite contributions in the form of research articles, commentaries teaching approaches/activities, editorials, and student showcase pieces (see here on TLA site for explanation of each form). We encourage co-authored pieces by faculty and students. 

●    Research or Analytical Articles (~8,000 words including references): TLA’s definition of an article is fairly expansive and goes beyond traditional scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) research. For example, articles may use ethnographic methods or content analyses of student work or explore questions of critical pedagogy and teaching practice. Articles in this category undergo external, anonymous peer review.

●     Commentaries (~2,500 words): These can be reflections, editorial-style essays, critical descriptions of classroom activities. Submissions in this category are editor-reviewed. 

●    Student Showcase (length varies): These can include original research papers, op-eds, and reflections written by students. We encourage contributors to think about work they may have created in anthropology classes or related courses. Submissions in this category are editor-reviewed. 

Abstract Guidelines: Please submit a 200-word abstract and title to by January 20th, 2023.  Be sure to include your title/affiliation and list all authors/contributors.  Please also specify your submission type: research article, commentary, or student showcase.  Because we anticipate a wide range of submissions, we ask that contributors include a brief statement addressing how they obtained (or will obtain) consent to use student work in their publication.  


Submission proposals to guest editors (200-word abstract + above info) = January 20th, 2023 

Decision from guest editors = February 15th, 2023

Submissions to guest editors for internal review = May 20th, 2023 

Comments from guest editors = Summer 2023

Submissions to TLA for review = September 1st, 2023

Expected date of publication = summer 2024


Guest Editors: 

Claire Panetta, Term Assistant Professor, Urban Studies Program, Barnard College;

Lucero Radonic, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology & Environmental Science and Policy Program, Michigan State University;

Suzanne Scheld, Professor, Department of Anthropology, California State University–Northridge;

Angela Storey, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Louisville;