Accepted Paper:

Urbanity in (cities like) Wels und Hildesheim: urban transformations in cities "off the map"  

Authors:

Georg Wolfmayr (Department of European Ethnology, University of Vienna)
Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber (Institut für Europäische Ethnologie Universität Wien)

Paper short abstract:

The research project investigates daily life in two cities "off the map": Wels in Upper Austria and Hildesheim in Lower Saxony. We examine how place and scale are negotiated by local residents and institutional actors like city government, city marketing, entrepreneurs etc.

Paper long abstract:

The poster presents the research project "Middletown Urbanities. Ethnographic Urban Studies in Wels and Hildesheim", which is situated at the Department of European Ethnology at the University of Vienna. The goal of the project is the ethnographic study of two cities "off the map" (Jennifer Robinson), which are not part of urban theorizing. Focusing on the daily life and pursuits of the people who live in these cities one case study each in Wels in Upper Austria (a stigmatized city) and Hildesheim in Lower Saxony (a cultural city) provide essential insights into everyday practices and modes of experience in these cities beyond the big metropolises. Rather than aiming for a fixation of the category "medium-sized city", we were more interested in ways people negotiate the size, the reach and the symbolic position of a place in different social fields. Based on this, we have inquired concretely into the ways in which residents and institutional actors classify their place of work and residence, the categories they use in doing so as well as the ways in which these categories shape life in the examined cities. In months of ethnographic research, we have examined practices of establishing size in different social fields, based on various themes such as urban marketing, biographic narration of places and spaces, radii and patterns of movement and nightly clubbing.

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