About the project

The Urban Cultures project is a cross-Faculty and trans-disciplinary enterprise that, as against the generally technocratic emphases of urban studies today, focuses on analysis of the specifically cultural forms of contemporary urban life.

Around 50% of the world’s population now inhabit urban space, many of them in the rapidly growing metropolises of the global South. This evidently constitutes a genuinely world-historical shift, yet what it means for the changing character of human existence and experience remains opaque.

Drawing on expertise from architectural history and theory, literary studies, urban history, and visual culture - as well as on the distinctive knowledge created by contemporary art, literary and architectural practice - the Urban Cultures project seeks to understand what modern urbanization means for different forms of cultural production and experience in the globally dispersed metropolis of today, while also tracing their development from the nineteenth century onwards.

Specific themes engaged by the project include:

  • Contemporary capitalist culture and the formation of the metropolis
  • The relations between cultural, social and urban form, from the novel to the architectural plan
  • Representations of the urban in contemporary art
  • Urban politics, Left culture and contemporary ecological thinking

The core group within the IMCC Urban Cultures project have organised previous conferences on The Sensuous Metropolis and Marx, Architecture and Modernity at the University of Westminster, and Fantasy Space: Surrealism and Architecture, in conjunction with AHRC Centre for Studies of Surrealism, at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester.


Colleagues in this research area across the university include: