Volume 13: Language, Space and Power: Urban Entanglements

 

COLLeGIUM, volume 13

Recent Submissions

  • Unknown author (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
  • Ameel, Lieven (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    In the novels Rakastunut rampa (A Cripple in Love, 1922) and Henkien taistelu (The Battle of the Spirits, 1933), Joel Lehtonen has constructed an imaginary environment that is at once one of the most disturbing and one of the most original landscapes to be found in the Finnish literature of the last century: the suburb of Krokelby. This deformed landscape, neither city nor countryside, is composed of disconcerting natural elements and crooked houses, and inhabited by grotesque characters. This article analyses the ways in which the literary landscape of Krokelby constitutes a radical inversion of more traditional images of Finnish symbolic landscapes, such as the national-romantic lake district of Eastern Finland, and the complex images of turn-of-the-century Helsinki. In Lehtonen’s novels, we find a carnivalisation of the proud and pure expanses of Karelia: a degenerate wasteland, filled with derelict houses; a Dante-esque scatological nightmare. The satirical and pessimistic way in which Lehtonen describes these suburban surroundings is prototypical for the direction in which literary descriptions of Helsinki and its suburbs were gradually evolving from the 1920s onwards: towards an ever more generic city, an in-between landscape of uprooted countryside and deformed cityscape. These descriptions foreshadow later representations of what arguably has become the most influential symbolic landscape in modern Finnish movies and literature: the suburbs.
  • Vuolteenaho, Jani; Kolamo, Sami (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    In this article, a critical attempt is made to read the language of contemporary urban boosterism – its eulogistic adjectives and slogans, escapist evocations in nomenclature, nostalgic narratives, etc. – through the lens of The Society of the Spectacle (1995, orig. 1967), Guy Debord’s controversial theoretico-political manifesto. Through discussion of empirical examples, the authors shed light on different types of in-situ landscape texts in Finnish and English cities. In the former national context, culturally escapist and non-native names given to leisurescapes and technoscapes have mushroomed over the last quarter century. While this process represents a semi-hegemonic rather than hegemonic trend, many developers’ reliance on the “independent” representational power of language has substantially reshaped naming practices in the non-Anglophone country. The analysis of different types of promotional texts at England’s major soccerscapes evinces the co-presence of nostalgic evocations of local history amidst the hypercommodification of space. Arguably, the culturally self-sufficient, tradition-aware representational strategies in current English football stem from pressure from fans, the country’s status as the cradle of modern football, and a privileged possibility to promote the game’s “native” meanings via a globally-spoken language. Finally, this article addresses the pros and cons of using the spectacle theoretical framework to analyse critically language-based urban boosterism and branding under the current conditions of neoliberal urbanism.
  • Scott, Maggie (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    This paper examines the linguistic identities of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, and the contexts in which they are currently used. The city is known by a range of different names that are linked with its historical and contemporary identities as they are represented in Scottish Gaelic, Scottish English and Scots. In terms of its etymology, the name Edinburgh is part Celtic and part Germanic, but in modern usage it exists within the official and standard discourses of the dominant language variety, Scottish English. It is the form of the name most usually employed in other British and International Englishes. In modern Scottish Gaelic, the city is called Dùn Èideann, and of those designations which could qualify as Scots, the best known is probably the nickname Auld Reekie “Old Smoky”, made popular in 18th century literature and still in use today. Particular attention is drawn here to the role that these toponymic identities play in relation to the place identity of the city. Each name resonates with different narratives of history and culture, which, although subjectively shaped at the individual level, share at least sufficient prototypical meaning for them to be employed effectively (and further shaped and manipulated) in a variety of public and commercial contexts. It is argued here that the ways in which these three toponymic layers describe the city reveal a complex paradigm of contested space, and that by better understanding the uses of these names we can better understand the linguistic politics of the city’s image and the current roles played by Scotland’s languages.
  • Husband, Charles; Alam, Yunis (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    This paper examines the significance of the construction of a Mughal garden within a nineteenth-century civic park in the northern English city of Bradford. We explore the semiotic environment of the streetscape in the surrounding inner city area of Manningham in which Lister Park is located. The framing discourse surrounding Manningham has defined it as a multiethnic area with a reputation of suffering from inner-city decline and ethnic tension. This context is significant for any reading of the streetscape within this area. It is argued that the signage, street furniture and local inhabitants / residents give this area a strong sense of its predominantly Pakistani heritage population. At the same time, the architecture in this area reflects both the nineteenth-century heritage of industry and Christianity into which more recently there have arrived visible aspects of Muslim culture and lifestyle. It is into this territorial context that the local council placed a contemporary representation of a traditional Mughal garden. The article explores the background of this process and examines the cultural symbolism and value of this garden for its varied users.
  • Koskinen, Kaisa (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    In this article, the linguistic landscape of the suburb of Hervanta in Tampere, Finland is studied from the perspective of translation studies. The data, collected in 2011, consists of 22 cases of translated signage. This data was analysed by using categorisations previously developed by Reh (2004) and Edelman (2010). Additionally, numerous translation studies viewpoints and concepts are introduced, including covert and overt translations, target- and source-orientedness, domestication and foreignisation, pragmatic adaptations, and the concepts of translational assimilation and accommodation. I argue that an adequate understanding of translated signage requires paying attention not only to what is translated but also to how translations are produced, and that translation studies can offer tools for this kind of analysis.
  • Porsché, Yannik (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    This paper outlines a microsociological contextualisation analysis as a methodology which selectively combines elements of interaction and discourse analysis to approach questions of knowledge and memory construction. Examples of such an analysis are presented from a case study on the production and reception of an exhibition designed by and presented in museums of history and migration in Paris (the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration) and in Berlin (the Deutsches Historisches Museum and the Kreuzbergmuseum). In order to investigate how national and European images of the ‘Self’ and the ‘Other’ are produced in “epistemic cultures” (Knorr-Cetina 2007) of the “global culture industry” (Lash & Lury 2007) the analysis focuses on the interaction between the museum institutions and the general public and asks: How is the public represented in public? Discursive and material constellations function as enabling and constraining contexts which participants simultaneously refer to and (re)produce in text and talk. The construction by reference is accomplished through multimodal contextualisation cues in talk, which serve as a methodological anchor point for the analysis. Additionally, ethnographic data and trans-sequential comparison sheds light on the context understood as conditions of possibility beyond conversation’s structural capacities. The article shows that not only does the content of the analysed exhibition deal with public negotiations of immigrant representations, but that the work by and within the museum institutions and the reception of the exhibition by museum visitors themselves constitute an asymmetrical, cross-cultural stage for negotiation.
  • Bencherki, Nicolas (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    Using the case of a four-year ethnography of a tenants’ association in an underprivileged district of Montréal, Québec, Canada, I show how workers use artefacts to translate the built landscape – the physical characteristics and issues of buildings – into language. This translation, I contend, is necessary to ground the association’s calls to city officials for intervention as legitimate and necessary. In turn, those calls, as they are recirculated, open up or deter programs of action. In other words, action is transformed into language which in turn calls for further action – and the distinction between action and language fades. This is not only a theoretical stance but also a preoccupation of participants themselves, whose daily work consists of effacing their own intervention and of presenting their calls for repairs as genuine demands from the district’s built landscape itself. This is especially important in a district where gentrification and other physical changes have a growing impact on poorer citizens. As researchers, we need to keep in mind that pitting materiality against language, or action against its descriptions, is unproductive from a pragmatic point of view and fails to account for the way in which community workers – among others – work and attempt, discursively, to shape their environment while presenting that environment as speaking “by itself.”
  • Vuolteenaho, Jani; Ameel, Lieven; Newby, Andrew; Scott, Maggie (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13
    Seeking to locate the case studies of Language, Space and Power: Urban Entanglements in the context of recent academic history, this introductory article explores the manifestations and legacies of the so-called linguistic and spatial turns in urban research. With regard to the linguistic turn, we first illustrate approaches characteristic of structuralism-inspired urban semiotics and postructuralism-affected discussions of the postmodern urban condition. In these research fronts, that were extremely fashionable in the late twentieth century, language was adopted as a pivotal metaphorical model to conceptualise the power-embeddedness of urban spaces, processes and identities. More recently, however, the ramifications of the linguistic turn across urban research have proliferated as a result of approaches in which specific place-bound language practices and language-based representations about cities have been scrutinised. Sharing an understanding of the linguistic realm as a category that is analytically distinct from the social and material realms, we identify methodological orientations (from discourse analytic to speech act theoretical frameworks), social scientific theories (from Laclau to Lefebvre) and thematic interests (from place naming to interactional uses of spoken language) that have been significant channels in re-directing urban scholars’ attention to the concrete workings of language. As regards the spatial turn, we highlight the relevance of the connectivity-, territoriality-, attachment- and entanglement-focused conceptualisations of space for the study of language-related power issues in urban settings. Finally, we introduce the volume’s empirical articles.
  • Vuolteenaho, Jani; Newby, Andrew; Ameel, Lieven; Scott, Maggie (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 2012)
    COLLeGIUM: Studies across Disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences 13