Call for Chapters: Cultural and Creative Production from ‘Suburban Nowheres’: 1700 to the Present

Ruth McManus's picture

Cultural and Creative Production from ‘Suburban Nowheres’: 1700 to the Present




Call for chapters:

If the following abstract appeals to you and if you would like to participate in the ensuing book project, please forward an abstract (max. 400 words) and short CV to the above addresses before 14 February 2019. Selected authors will be invited to present preliminary chapters at a conference held at the University of Antwerp on 11-12 April 2019. Transport costs and lodgings will be refunded upon agreement.


Location: Workshop at University of Antwerp – Centre for Urban History & Urban Studies Institute

Date: 11-12 April 2019



This book has the ambition of spatially decentering debates on cultural and creative production. We specifically question what history has to teach us about looking at ‘suburban nowheres’ (plural!), places not-commonly associated in urban theory with notions like innovation, culture and creativity. In particular, we invite authors to question cultural and creative production taking place ‘off-center’, in so-called ‘non-urban’, ‘interurban’ or ‘suburban’ places. These so-called ‘suburban nowheres’ appear as places in-between ‘city’ and ‘countryside’ or in-between ‘culture’ and ‘nature’: devoid of precisely those qualitative characteristics (aesthetics, cultural excitement, innovative ‘spillovers’, etc.) that supposedly make both city and nature life inspiring for cultural and creative production. Thus, ‘suburban nowheres’ are often seen as ‘sub-standard’ places or urban peripheral areas in limbo: zones where the ‘reinvigorating’ qualities of rural life have come to a halt, and the ‘exciting’ carousel of urban life has still to begin.

We welcome chapters addressing cultural and creative production in history related to four broad domains of inquiry. In opposition to the narrow economic emphasis associated with the work of Florida and others, the subject of the book can be defined as relating to: 1) artistic expression (literature, visual arts, performing arts, and so on); 2) craftsmanship (applied arts, including book publishing, winegrowing, grooming horses, etc.); 3) industrial inventiveness (product and process innovation through science, technology, etc.); and 4) everyday and vernacular creativity (club life, societies, DIY, gardening, and the like).


The question now arises as to how cultural and creative production taking place in ‘suburban nowheres’ needs to be qualified. Participants can construct their research around the following set of questions (not limited):

1- Conditions and location: When, why and under which conditions have ‘suburban nowheres’ been favored as locations of cultural and creative production?

2- Expressions and perceptions: How and in what forms is cultural and creative production in ‘suburban nowheres’ expressed, and why? And how is it perceived and commented upon, and by whom?

3- Power and relationships: What type of power relations are embedded in cultural and creative production in ‘suburban nowheres’? What is in particular the relationship with a dominant and governing urban core and urban commentariat?


We welcome proposals which offer a wider comparative and/or long-term historical perspective on these questions. Non-European case studies are particularly welcome.