Author:Yelenevskaya, Maria

This volume has evolved as a follow-up to the panel under the same title, which we organized at the 10th Congress of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF), in April 2011 in Lisbon. During the General Assembly congress participants were informed that the journal Cultural Analysis and SIEF had decided to be associated. Therefore we are particularly pleased that this special issue is the first volume of Cultural Analysis after the important decision was made and that most of the contributors are SIEF members.

The theme of this volume reflects an ever growing scholarly interest in various aspects of city life. The number of urban dwellers is constantly growing, and according to UN forecasts, by the middle of this century 70% of the world population will live in cities. The continuing processes of urbanization bring about new challenges and trigger scholarly and public debate (Bandarin 2011, 121). The very emergence of the subfield of urban anthropology is intertwined with the study of complex societies. As Eames and Goode aptly observe, even if a city emerged or was created for one dominant function it quickly draws to itself ancillary functions. Moreover, cities are not isolated geographic units but are linked in dynamic interaction with a hierarchy of contexts, from the local hinterland to regional, national and even international fields (Eames and Goode 1977, 79). Among the many roles of the city, its cultural role, including continuity and changes in cultures, remain the primary concern of urban anthropology. Due to globalization and mass migration most of the cities have become multiethnic and multicultural, but constituent cultures do not always act in unison. Urban spaces act as an arena within which different lifestyles interact and compete. As Simmel argues in his seminal work, it is the diversity, the constant tension created by the presence of numerous others and the multiplicity of economic, occupational, and social life that create the sensory foundations of mental life of city dwellers (Simmel 2002, 11-12). Unlike Simmel's work, none of the articles in this volume are concerned with a metropolis, yet middle-size and small towns on which the authors focus also reveal complexities and challenges of multiethnic and multicultural interaction in urban life.

Among the central and interrelated notions in the discourse on space in general, and on city space in particular, are place identity, reading space and...

To continue reading