Key Concepts in Urban Studies Lecture Series
‘Creativity’ is a popular catchword for many urban policy-makers. Since the publication of Richard Florida’s famous book The Rise of the Creative Class in 2002, the promotion of urban creativity and the attraction of creative workers have become key strategies for planners around the world. At the same time, scholars have started to develop critical analysis and to question the obscure concept of creativity. What does it mean exactly to be creative? What is implied by saying that Barcelona is ‘more creative’ than, say, Milan? Is creativity an exclusive feature of the rich and cosmopolitan global cities of the North of the world? And what about the politics, the injustices and the urban problems connected with the promotion of creative environments?
The seminar will introduce critical perspectives on urban creativity. First, it will be argued that discourses on urban creativity and on the cultural economy are always fragmented, partial and political. Then the politics of urban creativity will be critically analysed by looking at the forms of social fragmentation and at the culture of neoliberalism at its core. Finally, it will be argued that creativity is always situated; from a geographical point of view, this means that there are a number of ways to be creative, and that creativity crosses the traditional, stereotyped divide between cities of the global North and the global South.
Alberto Vanolo PhD in Spatial planning and local development, he is researcher and lecturer in politico-economic geography at the University of Turin (Italy). His research interests have touched on a variety of issues falling within the fields of urban studies and economic geography, including the geographies of globalization, the contested image of the creative city, and the political geographies of the smart city. His latest book, written with Ugo Rossi, is Urban Political Geography. A Global Perspective (Sage, 2012).