This article was sparked by the relative lack of attention the city of Birmingham has received in the global reception of ‘Birmingham cultural studies'. This oversight may reflect a more general trend in contemporary analysis of urban settings: a tendency to scenography. This refers to the filmic mode of address in recent studies of urban change which privilege a small number of dramatic, cinematic settings. Our article explores the city of Birmingham in its own terms, as an intense example of a wider set of processes: economic restructuring, place marketing amidst globalization. It investigates the politics of memory underlying the dominant competing visions of Birmingham which we call ‘the urban Arcadia’ and ‘Birmingham forward'. Despite their manifest differences, these two alignments of historical imagery converge on a harmonious conception of community which excludes many of the city's residents.
- politics of memory
- urban restructuring