Animated urbanisms

Modern cities are places of struggle and growth. Cities are the subject of multiple research questions, which take into account the new democratic movements that emerged from the Arab revolution, the global occupy movement, and the consequences of austerity after the crisis of 2007.

To help spread urban research in an easily digestible form, The University of Manchester joined forces with media company Toasted Productions and created short animations based on researchers’ findings for the ‘Animated Urbanisms’ competition. The five finalists include:

Urban social exclusion and graffiti spiritualities by Chris Shannahan explains how unemployment and low life expectancy are representative of the Bromford housing estate in the U.K. Shannahan, a specialist in Urban Theology, highlights the needs and concerns of the people reflected on the walls of the city through urban iconography. The animation focuses on a research project about graffiti as a sign of urban spirituality.


Uneven geographies of austerity urbanism by Stephen Hincks shows the idea of austerity in urbanisation after the crisis of 2007. This senior lecturer in Spatial Planning explores the cutting of budgets in the public sector and its consequences for cities and envisions how city governments have to balance the interests of providing public services with the interests of generating resources and development.


Unveiling the Eco-city phenomenon: is this the (urban) future? summarizes the research of Federico Cugurullo, lecturer in Human Geography at the School of Environment, Education and Development. Cugurullo addresses contemporary urban projects, exploring them with examples of cities that are using sustainability or ecology as models to develop the cities of the future. But his critical eye points out that this model of city making is not really as ecologically sound as it’s made out to be and poses questions for the design of sustainable cities.


Shanghai: sanitation, differentiation and inequality by Deljana Iossifova illustrates how the dazzling Chinese megacity excludes an important part of its population in terms of access to sanitation. Iossifova, lecturer in Urban Studies, comments on the links between the individual and the social in the city with regards to socio-spatial differentiation and inequality.


The post-political city and the insurgent polis by Erik Swyngedouw & Japhy Wilson introduces the modern city as a place of struggle and points to the contemporary city as a place molded by technocratic design to attract investment. Swyngedouw, professor of geography, and Wilson, lecturer in International Political Economy, argue that the outcome of this neoliberal urban situation is the post-political city. They characterize the post-political city as one where real democratic debate has become impossible which results in new forms of politicization and insurgent movements demanding real democracy.


Gemma Solés i Coll holds an M.A. in Social Science of Development South of the Sahara (URV) and graduated in Philosophy (UB). She specializes in artistic and cultural trends and urban dynamics in Africa. She serves as chief editor for the music and performing arts section of Spanish online magazine WIRIKO, of which she is the founder.

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