Emotions as Causes and Effects of Creative Urban Artist Areas

Activity: Talk or presentationGuest lecturesResearch

Volker Kirchberg - Oral presentation

For the last two decades urban arts and cultural districts, arts neighborhoods, and artist housing and studios have become the focus of social scientists studying the intersection of urban and arts sociology. Sidelining the, by now, vast literature on creative people, creative classes and artistic inputs in urban development, I will analyze the emotional forms and functions of this type of urban cohabitation. Certain smaller areas have been, from the bottom up, transformed by artists NOT for external political or economic purposes BUT for self-utilitarian – and often emotional – purposes internal to the participating artists and their community. The former purposes are objectives of urban revitalization and postindustrial economic programs (cf. Galligan, Markusen, Strom) whereas the latter purposes are objectives directly and emotionally pursued by the participating artists. For them, these confined areas are “reservates” that serve as catalyst for the internal socio-spatial emotional enjoyment of arts and artists, performing and propagating a “liberty of delectableness” not offered outside these specific areas. As a theoretical starting point I interpret texts such as Zukin’s “Loft Living” (1982), Bourdieu’s “Rules of Art” (1992) and Ehrenreich’s “Dancing in the Streets” (2006), plus the literature on the notion of “cultural sustainability” that alludes to the emotional values of these areas and activities (e.g., Kirchberg & Kagan, Brocchi, Duxbury, Throsby). There is a variety of emotional benefits for artists living and working in these “alternative” urban areas, and for the visitors and supporters of these artistic communities, lifestyles, networks. These emotional benefits can be paraphrased and typologized as “artistic community identity”, “alternative compatriotism”, “lifestyle experimentation” and “bohemian sociality” – to name just a few. Furthermore, these emotional benefits can be also analyzed applying the extensive literature on the “affectual turn” (Clough 2007, Gregg & Seighworth 2010). Empirical illustrations will be provided by my own research in urban artist areas in Baltimore, Maryland, and Hamburg, Germany, plus further collated evidence from Phoenix, Arizona, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and other cities.


3rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Urban Creativity - AUC 2014: Inclusive Creative City and Cultural Diversity


Osaka, Japan, Japan

Event: Conference