Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries

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Call for abstracts: Situating the Local in Global Cultural Policy

July 27th, 2018

Colourful umbrellas display

We are pleased to welcome papers for a special edition of Cultural Trends.

Edited by: Dr Leila Jancovich, (University of Leeds) Victoria Durrer (Queens University Belfast) Dr Abigail Gilmore, (University of Manchester) and Dr David Stevenson (Queen Margaret’s University)

Due for publication in September 2019

From the growth of city regions to the calls for more localism, engaging with ‘the local’ has become an increasingly important part of cultural policy rhetoric in many countries. Yet despite apparent recognition that the practices of culture are always situated (and hence local), contemporary cultural policy research tends to privilege the national or international as the primary site at which cultural policy is enacted and thus, can be reformed. For all of its increasing use ‘the local’ remains abstract, seeminly deployed to legitimate activity that is of debatable benefit to the places and practices imagined by its invocation.

In opposition to this arguably token localism, abody of work calls for greater recognition of the “situated cultural practices [and] internal logics, histories and structures” of particular places in the study of cultural policy (Gilmore, 2013, p. 86; see also Durrer, 2017). It draws on work that considers the ways in which local relationships and practices of policymaking, convergence, and transference negotiate and manage national and international policies (e.g. Stevenson et al, 2010; Wilson & Boyle, 2004; Johanson et al 2014). This work has been accompanied by growing rhetoric and advocacy for co-production and citizen-led as well as participatory governance structures (Jancovich, 2015). Attempts to build “adaptive capacity” or resilience among citizens (Pike, Dawley, & Tomaney, 2010) have adopted approaches from social learning (Collins & Ison, 2006) and public participation (Brodie, Cowling, & Nissen, 2009). Many welcome these potentially more democratic approaches and the possibility of a commons of cultural assets, infrastructure, resources and knowledge (Ostrom, 1990; Gonzales, 2014; Murphy & Stewart, 2017)

But questions equally abound about the application and implications of such approaches. Some caution the weakening of local power and decision making by replacing governmental policy (either at a local or national scale) with a neo-liberal governance model, which actively reduces state responsibilities. It is argued that this approach might perpetuate uneven distribution of resources and instead places responsibility for development on already under resourced communities (Davodi & Madanipour, 2015; Mohan & Stokke, 2000). For example, within the UK contradictions and tensions are demonstrated through an evidenced reduction in the investment in local culture, despite a professed growing interest in and recognition of the local (CMS, 2016).

It appears evident that a better understanding of cultural policy at a local level is imperative to the development of the field. As such, this special edition of Cultural Trends will focus on better understanding how local cultural policy is practised and understood across a variety of locations. We are therefore interested in papers that attempt to re-situate and position the theories and practices of cultural policy making in local contexts (as opposed to the pre-dominant focus on national and international contexts).

Proposal for papers may include empirical research, case studies, and theoretical work in this area, relating to:

  • cultural economies
  • the political economy of local cultural practice
  • place-based initiatives
  • local governance structures
  • collaborative and cooperative models for ownership and shared resources for cultural provision
  • community-led, citizen-engaged and / or participatory cultural policy making alternative models for decision-making processes including deliberative and participatory processes
  • financial distribution of cultural investment
  • interpretations/definitions of culture in, by, and for policy
  • the relationship between the local, the national, and the international
  • the relationship between the informal and the institutional
  • the relationship between government and governance

We are keen to receive proposals from as wide a range of locations as possible and are interested in approaches to cultural practice that are broad based including, but not limited to: parks, libraries, heritage, fine visual and performing arts, food, craft, voluntary and / or amateur arts, film, animation, digital culture, cultural assets: tangible and intangible (e.g. venues, networks).

Timeline and key dates:

  1. Initial abstracts of between 300 – 500 words should be submitted to the corresponding editor Dr David Stevenson, dstevenson@qmu.ac.uk by Monday 1st October 2018 – accompanied with an 80 -100 word author(s) biography.
  2. By the Thursday 1st November 2018, the editors will shortlist a number of the abstracts and request that their authors write up the full paper
  3. Full papers (of between 5000 & 6000 words including all references) should subsequently be submitted for peer review by Monday 18th March 2019
  4. On the basis of peer review six papers will be selected for inclusion in the special edition

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