Beyond Text Scheme: Street Life and Street Culture

  • Nevola, F (PI)

Project: Research council

Project Details


Today the street is synonymous with anxiety, worry, anti-social behaviour: nothing of this is new. The opposite is also true however, as urban renewal, major infrastructure and monumental architectural projects are all invested by planners and policy-makers with the expectation that they will redeem depressed areas and renew the social and physical fabric of neighbourhoods and communities: again, this also applies to the past. Though firmly based in the context and experience of Early Modern Europe, this project seeks to view the process of urban change as witnessed along streets, with a comparative perspective offered by contemporary practice and experience. In relation to the public space of streets, we will consider these major themes: the relation between ephemeral performances and permanent urban change; the performative siting of violence, punishment and protest; surveillance, policing and control; gossip and the circulation of news; street sounds. The network aims at an historical understanding of contemporary problems concerning street culture, by addressing issues that could also help reframe current issues, thus feeding into public policy. This objective will also be advanced by the network's varied constituencies and the involvement of our project partners, CABE (Commission for Architecture and Built Environment). \n\nThe network is led by Fabrizio Nevola, whose previous work on Early Modern Siena (Siena: Constructing the Renaissance City, New Haven and London 2007 and co-author of the exhibition catalogue of the National Gallery's recent Renaissance Siena: Art for a City) is characterised by an interdisciplinary approach to the urban environment. He is currently engaged in a new comparative research project that considers the interaction between commerce, urbanism and palace architecture in Early Modern Italy, in which streets are a key factor. It is planned that the network will create a vibrant research community that will look at new methodologies by bringing together historians, art historians, architectural historians, cultural anthropologists, social geographers, architects, urban planners, performers and artists, to discuss the social and physical environment of the street in a cross-disciplinary manner and across a broad chronological sweep.\n\nThe Street life and street culture network will meet eight times over a two year period. The place and form of the meetings will vary. The first will be in Oxford, where the team will invite a number of speakers and respondents from cultural anthropology, the professions of architecture and planning, and local community services. It will include an on-site visit/seminar based around the Cowley Road. The objective will be to explore shared interests and agendas that inform our historical study with contemporary debates on 'street culture'. Subsequently there will be three workshops/symposia, again with outside speakers, that address specific themes of the project / the temporary and ephemeral use of urban space, violence/conflict/control, and gossip/information/sound. The network team will hold an overseas meeting in Siena which is scheduled to coincide with the Palio, an event where the city's physical and social fabric interact in a way that is both traditional and contemporary. This will include a seminar with cultural anthropologists and local administrators. We also plan to hold a sponsored session at the annual conference of the American Society of Architectural Historians. The final conference in London will present our findings with a broad range of speakers and respondents
Effective start/end date1/04/091/04/11


  • AHRC


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