Culture in the City. Contemporary Narratives (Dubai, Hongkong, Skolkovo)

There is a notion that the 21. Century is the century of the city. Almost all of the daily 140 000 new born worldwide will end up living in urban conditions. Urbanism seems to be(come) the ever crucial condition of human life whereas the countryside turns more and more in a nostalgic remembrance.

In an era of fast growing mega-cities across the board, the development of disintegrated trade zones and “sudden hubs” Shakespeare’s question “What is the city but the people?” (Coriolanus) sounds like an early anticipation of the current demand on rethinking the metropolis.

The lecture tries to show on three contemporary examples (Dubai, Hong Kong, Skolkovo/Moscow) how cities today compete over human capital, influence and softpower. Newly created metropolitan structures are the frontrunners of an unprecedented immense and spontaneous cultural exchange between global nomads and local population(s). The incubation of global trends, brands and innovation, the incidence of creative potential migrating to the ever changing “places to go” reveals the fleetingness and fragility of many ambitious city developments. Furthermore, an aggressive liberalization of the market economy comes to the paradoxical point that urban growth is accompanied by a decline of the public sector.

But the future is not all that bad. Rethinking the city is not any more the discreet domain of a few Western critics. Authorities and communities of recently established cities for example in the Middle and Far East try to re-interpret and adopt the Contrat Social.

Urban culture as the language of public communication mirrors the status of social conditions in the city. Studying its texture provides narratives about the urban life in our time.


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