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Communicating the City

Meanings, Practices, Interactions

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Edited By Giorgia Aiello, Matteo Tarantino and Kate Oakley

How human meanings, practices and interactions produce and are produced by urban space is the focus of this timely and exciting addition to the study of urban communication.

Challenging notions of the ‘urban’ as physically, economically or technologically determined, this book explores key intersections of discourse, materiality, technology, mobility, identity and inequality in acts of communication across urban and urbanizing contexts. From leisure and media consumption among Chinese migrant workers in a Guangdong village to the diverse networks and communication infrastructures of global cities like London and Los Angeles, this collection combines a range of perspectives to ask fundamental questions about the significance and status of cities in times of intensified mediation and connectivity.

With case studies from Italy, Britain, Ireland, Russia, the United States and China, this international collection demonstrates that both empirical and critical knowledge on the relationship between communication and urban life has become vital across the humanities and social sciences.

Communicating the City will be essential reading for all scholars and students who desire to gain an in-depth understanding of the multiple roles that media and communication have in lived experiences of the city.

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Introduction: Communicating the city between the centre and the margins (Giorgia Aiello / Matteo Tarantino)

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Introduction

Communicating the city between the centre and the margins

GIORGIA AIELLO AND MATTEO TARANTINO



By now, the repertoire of themes and critiques with which one could open an edited collection on urban communication has come to be quite populated. We may start by paralleling the growth of urbanism with that of communication technologies. We could begin by restating the central role of cities in informational capitalism, following the work of Manuel Castells (1989, 2009) and Saskia Sassen (2001, 2011). In the same vein, we could begin by showing how narratives of dematerialization of urban space through ICTs have been proven wrong by history—whereas twenty years ago we would have stressed their “promise.” And so on. If we felt so inclined, we could easily bring back in power inequalities in urban spaces and how they are linked to communication practices that are revealing of class, gender, racial, or ethnic divisions.

All of this continues to matter, of course, but instead we will open the introduction to our edited book with a tale about strawberries.

Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted megalopolises, has strawberries growing in its less central areas. As a way to escape from the big city, over the last few years city residents have started taking trips to the outskirts of Beijing to go pick strawberries during spring weekends. Massive flows of strawberry-picking images travel through Chinese social media,...

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