Contest/ed Scenes and Spaces: Exposing Cultural Infrastructures

Call For Papers Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting 2013, Los Angeles April 9-13th

Session Title: Contest/ed Scenes and Spaces: Exposing Cultural Infrastructures

Session organisers: Chris Gibson (University of Wollongong) and Lizzie Richardson (Durham University).

The dominance of a particular figuring of the ‘cultural and creative economy’ (Landry and Bianchini, 1995, Landry, 2000; Florida, 2002) has recently been undermined by interventions that seek to relocate and revalue creativity. Such interventions attend to a variety of marginal and vernacular forms of creative practice that have been underplayed or overlooked in previous scholarship. An emphasis on the contributions of cultural and creative industries to urban and regional development has also stifled engagement with other, more critical threads of theoretical and political thought in geography. This session seeks to contribute to this work by positioning creativity in forms of performance, such as music, theatre and spoken word, and by exploring such performances in heterodox material spaces. Rather than isolating creativity as an individual talent, the aim is to explore how and with what implications practices of cultural production involve collective or distributed agency, and claims over space (as political, as performative). To reclaim creativity from the neoliberal agenda of economic growth and urban regeneration, the session is looking for contributions that expose the hidden cultural infrastructures supporting and/or limiting particular performance scenes. This values performative possibilities but also highlights the challenges of the fragility of such material creative networks. How do contest/ed scenes operate in dis/connection with more stable cultural institutions? What kinds of relational or liminal spaces of cultural production are necessary to exceed easy or conventional categorisation – and might this undermine more permanent claims for political/politicised spaces of cultural infrastructure? Decentring creativity, what is the potential in creative spaces for new forms of sociality, conviviality and politics? In contrast to its positioning as a neutral driver for economic growth, we want to examine how creativity is contested and how contest occurs through creativity.

We seek contributions on but not limited to:

  • Hidden spaces cultural production
  • Successful/failed cultural infrastructure
  • Theorisations of creativity that intersect with critical threads in postcolonial, radical, feminist and queer thought
  • Mixed or multiple forms of creative practice/space
  • Making and delineating scenes through material practices
  • Intersections between institutional and non-institutional performance

Please send a 250 word abstract to Chris ( and Lizzie ( by Friday 28th September, 2012.

Successful submissions will be contacted by Friday 5th October 2012 and will be expected to register and submit their abstracts online at the AAG website by October 24th 2012. Please note that a range of registration fees will apply and must be paid before the submission of abstracts.