AMPS UCL PRESS JOURNAL AWARD

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Winner: Dr. Uli Linke

Year: 2021
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology
Title: The optics of dispossession: urban precarity as political art
Format: Journal Article

Abstract

How are conditions of urban dispossession sustained and perpetuated by the way peoples on the margins of the world economy are imagined and brought to public visibility? With a focus on the works of European artists, this article explores the image-making projects whereby ghettos, shanty communities and favelas are represented as iconic lifeworlds of the poor. Competing representations of urban poverty are manufactured for public attention by aesthetic, symbolic and affective means, ranging from a romance of despair or humanitarian compassion to a nostalgic longing for premodern signs of a deprived but simpler life. In contrast to the racialised human form, which is central to iconographies of the North American Black ghetto, the shanty-town inhabitants and city builders of the Global South are typically rendered visually absent: a tropology of people’s disempowerment and dispossession. Although often encoded by a critique of intensifying inequalities, the globalised traffic in urban poverty-art relies on an image-making process that is grounded in a detachment from social life. The representations of urban dispossession tend to produce a repertoire of free-floating emblems and signs that can be variously deployed, assembled, appropriated and discarded. Such visual templates are globally consumed as works of art that can alter urban imaginaries, encourage tourism and local economic development as much as neoliberal subjectification. After analysing a range of such artistic endeavours, this article concludes by focusing attention on how an image-maker’s commitment to humanising optics of urban dispossession can transform non-representational art to become a practice of truth.

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Winner: Dr. Allan W. Shearer

Year: 2020
Institution: University of Austin, Texas
Title: Roleplaying to Improve Resilience
Format: Journal Article

Abstract

This article presents an approach to improve urban resilience by examining crisis dynamics through a role-playing game. The set of exploratory exercises extend the Archaria 2035 scenario and geographic information system model, which was developed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to advance concepts that support military operations. Participants (graduate students) worked in teams to identify and map critical relationships related to health, safety and welfare through a modified version of the Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, Information (PMESII) framework. Next, each participant was given a one-page stakeholder profile that specified motives, kinds and degrees of influence, and connections to other stakeholders. This information was used to create maps that showed how each character understood the city. Crisis event details were revealed a day-and-a-half before the game. NATO staff contributed to the event by presenting courses of action to restore security and order. Participants gave opinions on how their characters might act during the event and react to the proposed military operations. Conversations created temporary collaborations among some stakeholders but also conflicts among others that could create additional problems. A post-game assignment asked participants to write memos on specific policies and plans that would reduce vulnerability to the crisis. As a matter of pedagogy, results the demonstrate the value of role-playing to consider multiple perspectives and second- and third-order effects of a crisis. Specifically, connecting gameplay conversations and results back to initial ideas about health, safety and welfare contributed to reconsiderations of assumptions about contingent relationships.

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Winner: Dr. Todd Levon Brown

Year: 2019
Institution: City University New York
Title: Racialized Architectural Space: A Critical Understanding of its Production, Perception and Evaluation
Format: Journal Article

Abstract

Academic inquiry into the concept of space as racialized can be traced back to at least as far as the turn of the twentieth century with sociologist W. E. B. Dubois’ promulgation of the “color-line” theory. More recently, numerous postmodern scholars from a variety of fields have elucidated the various ways in which physical space (i.e., the built environment), as a social product, embodies racialized ideologies exhibited and reproduced by segregation, economics and other social practices. The dialogue on race and space has primarily been limited to the urban scales of city, neighborhood, community and street. Socio-spatial research that centers around race rarely addresses this phenomenon at the scale of architecture – the individual building or a particular development. Such a failure to critically examine the role of the architectural product in the creation and reproduction of socio-spatial and socio-racial inequality yields the field of architectural practice exempt and blameless in its tangible contribution to the psychosocial and geospatial marginalization of communities of color, as in, for example, the case of gentrification. This paper attempts to illustrate the fact that architecture, like all of the built physical environment, is not ahistorical, apolitical – and certainly not race neutral – but, as a social product, is also understood clearly within these contexts, and its psychological and social impacts and outcomes must be examined with a racially critical lens, particularly in heterogeneous urban communities.

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Winners: Dr. Michael Saker & Dr. Jordan Frith

Year: 2018
Institutions: City, University of London & University of North Texas
Title: Locative Media and Sociability: Using Location-Based Social Networks to Coordinate Everyday Life
Format: Journal Article

Abstract

Foursquare was a mobile social networking application that enabled people to share location with friends in the form of “check-ins.” The visualization of surrounding known social connections as well as unknown others has the potential to impact how people coordinate social encounters and forge new social ties. While many studies have explored mobile phones and sociability, there is a lack of empirical research examining location-based social network’s (LSBNs) from a sociability perspective. Drawing on a dataset of original qualitative research with a range of Foursquare users, the paper examines the application in the context of social coordination and sociability in three ways. First, the paper explores if Foursquare is used to organize certain social encounters, and if so, why. Second, the paper examines the visualization of surrounding social connections and whether this leads to “serendipitous encounters.” Lastly, the paper examines whether the use of Foursquare can produce new social relationships.

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Acknowledgement:

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AMPS would like to thank and acknowledge the work and insights offered by its academic peer reviewers and awards committee in the selection process for this award.

 

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