University of Auckland event: Re-imagining the City

This week (30 November – 2 December) the University of Auckland’s School of Cultures, Languages and Linguistics has been hosting an international conference themed as “Re-imagining the City: Legacies, Challenges, Possibilities”

Areas of interest posed when this under-publicised event was being planned included: 

  • To what extent can we conceive of the ‘city’ as ‘civilisation,’ ‘community,’ ‘home’? (e.g. the polis, associationism, sites of cultural capital, homelessness, segregation, marginalised and refugee communities).
  • Decolonising the city: its spaces, places and monuments. What are the relationships of Indigenous communities, past and present, their societies and languages, with cities? Tāmaki Makaurau’s histories, heritages, and challenges; reclaiming Indigenous sites of significance. Tensions between perceiving urbanisation as modernisation/development or as westernisation/loss of identity.
  • How can the ‘city’ better interface with the ‘country’? Issues around urbanisation, climate change, sustainability and resilience; rural depopulation; borderlands.   
  • The relationship of cities and citizens with private corporate interests.
  • Representations of global cities, especially those in the Asia-Pacific region, and their significance within economic, political and cultural power networks. International and internal migrations.
  • Cities and bodies: physical, social, civic, and political; sociocultural stratifications of the city; transgressive spaces and practices; the city and health, mental, physical, spiritual; gender in the city; how different bodies and social, cultural and diasporic groups claim urban spaces to display their identities; disabled communities in the city.
  • How does the media construct the city? How is the city communicatively imaged, imagined and experienced through the visual arts and media representations? How do immersive technologies and digital environments mediate our embodied relationships in and with cities?
  •  Personified, symbolic, and transnational cities: the city as hero; villain; site of trauma; spiritual symbol; the Republic of Letters; the Lettered City; the City of Ladies.

Described as a major transdisciplinary gathering of national and international researchers and leaders, from universities, local government, community organisations and industry (“Aotearoa’s first on such multiple facets”) the event featured a Colloquium on Māori in the City on Thursday 30 November chaired by Associate Professor Marama Muru-Lanning of the James Henare Research Centre. This included the following presentations: 

  • Ngāti Whātua and Waikato: Conflict of interest or whanaungatanga?
  • Reimagining the city: A cultural narrative
  • Takatāpui in the city
  • Tikanga and environmental law in the city
  • The gulf between Māori and Pākehā memory of place

There is a PDF of Abstracts available to download here.


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