Mission Statement

Mission Statement of the SCMS Urban Studies Scholarly Interest Group

Drafted by Sabine Haenni and Brendan Kredell, 2009

After decades of very importantly and very successfully consolidating itself as a discipline, cinema studies has helped to institutionalize research into other media and across disciplinary boundaries. One important avenue for fostering interdisciplinary research has been under the aegis of urban studies, as the success of SCMS’s 2008 annual conference in Philadelphia, “Architectures of the Moving Image,” as well as an explosion of books and anthologies (many of which were written or edited by SCMS members) attest.

Urban Studies as a category has proven to be both specific and broad enough to allow for provocative interdisciplinary inquiry while drawing on the methodological strengths of cinema and media studies. It functions as a location for intellectual exchange for scholars working on exhibition practices as well as forms of visual representation; on commercial, documentary, narrative and experimental film; on different national contexts; in different media. Beyond bringing together scholars working in traditionally distinct subspecializations within cinema and media studies, it also draws into its circle media scholars based in other disciplines, such as geography, architecture, sociology, anthropology, history, etc. The Urban Studies SIG provides a forum from which to explore the relationship between media and the built environment, seeking to understand how media have influenced the ways in which we perceive, understand and use the built environment, and how the built environment has affected the organization and shape of media practices. In doing so, it remains open to larger questions of social space, recognizing, for instance, that the urban environment cannot be understood without paying attention to attending issues of suburbanization, or the dynamic relationship between the country and the city, or larger environmental and ecological questions. The Urban Studies SIG attends to the histories of the intertwinement of cities and media; and it takes up the challenges of the contemporary moment in which proliferating media platforms like never before influence the ways in which we think about rapidly globalizing cities around the world.

Because we find ourselves in a phase of rapid urbanization globally, urban studies has emerged as point of interest in a number of disciplines. And because of the proliferation of media platforms, scholars in a number of other disciplines have turned their interest to visual and other media. As the premiere society for cinema and media studies professionals on the international scene, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies should play a central role in bringing together scholars working on the relationship between media and the urban environment. We envision the mission of the Urban Studies Interest Group as the furthering of this aim, through the following objectives:

  1. To provide a forum in which urban studies scholars can discuss their work, organize panels and workshops for each year’s conference, and work together to accomplish the goals and objectives of the group;
  2. To organize and schedule a yearly meeting at the SCMS conference where we can gather to formulate more specific programs and plans;
  3. To use urban studies as a platform and focal point from which to foster interdisciplinary cinema and media studies scholarship;
  4. To use urban studies as a platform and focal point from which to foster intellectual exchange among cinema and media studies scholars working in different subdisciplines (such as national cinemas, ethnic cinemas etc.);
  5. To encourage participation and membership in SCMS from scholars working on media and the urban environment based in other disciplines;
  6. To encourage international membership and participation in SCMS for scholars in other countries working on the media and the urban environment;
  7. To produce histories and theories of the complex interrelation between media and built space;
  8. To explore the very definition of multi- or interdisciplinary scholarship especially as it pertains to the issue of built space;
  9. To support Cinema Journal and other publications and to encourage their inclusion of interdisciplinary media scholarship, especially as it pertains to the built environment;
  10. To take on special projects, such as specially-designated panels, joint conferences, plenary participation, or workshops to foster the above goals;
  11. To set up an urban studies website, to coordinate the above activities;
  12. To acknowledge and recognize the important work that is being done in different fields on the relationship between the media and the built environment and to make SCMS a central location for the investigation of these issues.

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