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Urban Transformations in the United States

In 2012, American Studies and History programs of the UA Ruhr universities in the Ruhr Region in Bochum, Dortmund and Duisburg-Essen united in the RuhrCenter of American Studies. As a result of this collaboration, the three partners have established a special project focusing on urban transformations in the USA.

The project, entitled “Spaces – Communities – Representations: Urban Transformations in the USA” is financed by the Mercator Foundation’s Research Center Ruhr (MERCUR).

This interdisciplinary project aims to examine, from a variety of perspectives, how urban transformations in the United States manifest themselves in the physical design and usage of spaces, in the make-up and interaction of communities, in cultural practices and in urban imaginaries. In its approach, the project pays a tribute to a view of urban cultures as a result and expression of inter- and multicultural communication as well as of processes of negotiation and hybridization of individual and collective identities.

Research is conducted in six individual PhD projects, focusing on different aspects of “EthniCity” or on different fictional and non-fictional texts, urban narratives, and historical and political processes.

Doctoral students investigate how urban transformations change the design and use of spaces, the interaction within and the composition of urban society and the representation of the city in urban imaginaries. Their research will make visible the dynamics of urban transformation and investigates the emergence of and the changes within so-called urban narratives.

The project “Urban Transformations in the USA” productively integrates the research undertaken by the Ruhr Center americanists and historians. The ongoing research will be presented at annual springtime symposia in 2013, 2014 and 2015.