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Ecologies of Affect

Placing Nostalgia, Desire, and Hope

Tonya K.Davidson, OndinePark, RobShields

Publication Year: 2013

Ecologies of Affect offers a synthetic introduction to the felt dynamics of cities and the character of places. The contributors capture the significance of affects including desire, nostalgia, memory, and hope in forming the identity and tone of places. The critical intervention this collection of essays makes is an active, consistent engagement with the virtualities that produce and refract our idealized attachments to place. Contributors show how place images, and attempts to build communities, are, rather than abstractions, fundamentally tied to and revolve around such intangibles. We understand nostalgia, desire, and hope as virtual; that is, even though they are not material, they are nevertheless real and must be accounted for. In this book, the authors take up affect, emotion, and emplacement and consider them in relation to one another and how they work to produce and are produced by certain temporal and spatial dimensions.

The aim of the book is to inspire readers to consider space and place beyond their material properties and attend to the imaginary places and ideals that underpin and produce material places and social spaces. This collection will be useful to practitioners and students seeking to understand the power of affect and the importance of virtualities within contemporary societies, where intangible goods have taken on an increasing value.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Environmental Humanities


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Figures

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-16

This book was born in a place with nameless streets. Since 1913, the streets in Edmonton, Alberta, have been numbered, denied the quaint street names of shared city imaginaries like Sesame Street, Broadway, Main Street. The meaningful names of other places evoke a sense of place—place myths—that seems to be absent ...

Section I: Nostalgia

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1. “Not everything was good, but many things were better”: Nostalgia for East Germany and Its Politics

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pp. 19-42

During a recent trip to Berlin, I wandered through the shops of Alexanderplatz in search of objects invoking the East German past. This square, once the symbolic centre of the German Democratic Republic, is tied inextricably to one of the most vivid memories of my East German childhood. ...

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2. Nostalgia and Postmemories of a Lost Place: Actualizing “My Virtual Homeland"

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pp. 43-64

This project asks how it becomes possible to feel and remember an unvisited, unknown place as lost. What are the mechanisms of memory and representation that lead descendants of exiles to continue to feel a sense of loss of place? Considering Proust’s conceptualization of the virtual as “real without being actual, ideal without being abstract” ...

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3. Placing Nostalgia: The Process of Returning and Remaking Home

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pp. 65-84

Nostalgia is often understood as an inability to go back, a sickness from being unable to return. Though temporally this may be the case, as the past cannot be revisited, affects such as nostalgia are linked to material spaces, and can have enduring relationships with space. ...

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4. From Disease to Desire: The Afflicted Amalgamation of Music and Nostalgia

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pp. 85-102

Despite its original diagnosis as an “afflicted imagination” enkindling despair and death in its victims, nostalgia was adopted as a musical device in Classical, Romantic, and early popular music. In this chapter, I trace nostalgia’s migration from its diagnosis as a crippling disease to its paradoxical incorporation into musical composition. ...

Section II: Desire

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5 The Tourist Affect: Escape and Syncresis on the Las Vegas Strip

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pp. 105-126

How does one understand an isolated desert city devoted to gambling and leisure escapes such as Las Vegas? How does one understand the place, an urban environment like the four miles of The Strip, or the casino resorts and hotels along it such as the Belaggio? ...

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6 (In)Human Desiring and Extended Agency

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pp. 127-142

In this chapter I will explore how desire, hope, and place can be rethought by rethinking the role of relationship. My observation is that relationships are not a product of the meeting of definable entities or concepts, but rather themselves constitute and determine what we—in retrospect—later come to identify as singular or seemingly independent “individuals.” ...

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7. Cityscapes of Desire: Urban Change in Post-Soviet Russia

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pp. 143-168

Varying from glorification to aversion, sentiments about post-Soviet cityscapes fuse affective perceptions of rearranged spaces, imaginaries of desirable living, and aspirations and disappointments associated with political change, as well as persistent references to the Soviet past. It is this nexus that I interrogate in this chapter. ...

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8. Illustrating Desires: The Idea and the Promise of the Suburb in Two Children’s Books

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pp. 169-194

In this chapter, I consider the idea and the promise of the suburbs.1 I do this by looking at how they are imagined in two children’s picture books about young kids newly encountering the suburban landscape. The City Kid and the Suburb Kid (2008, written by Deb Pilutti and illustrated by Linda Bleck) ...

Section III: Hope

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9. The Virtual Places of Childhood: Hope and the Micro-Politics of Race at an Inner-City Youth Centre

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pp. 197-216

In cities across Canada and the United States, recreational youth centres have become politically popular antidotes to the crime, poverty, and hopelessness that are thought to pervade “inner-city,” ghettoized spaces (Kelley 1997). In Edmonton, Alberta, the Eaglewood Community Youth Centre1 was created to combat this “deleterious” influence of the street. ...

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10. Virtual Resurrections: Che Guevara’s Image as Place of Hope

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pp. 217-244

In 2006, while reading news on the Internet, I came across an image of Hindu women demonstrating in the streets of Tamil Nadu, Chennai.1 The special correspondent describes the crowd and its demographic composition under the banner “Expressing Solidarity” and reports on the reasons they have publicly gathered to protest. ...

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11. Performing Spaces of Hope: Street Puppetry and the Aesthetics of Scale

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pp. 245-270

Imagine a four-storey elephant moving slowly toward you in the city street. Imagine a giant “little” girl inhabiting the streets where you live for a few days and performing ordinary daily rituals—showering, dressing, eating, sleeping, and going for a walk—on an extraordinary scale. ...

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12. The Spatial Distribution of Hope In and Beyond Fort McMurray

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pp. 271-292

Fort McMurray, Alberta, has been hailed as a “land of hope” for workers and their families, for the Canadian national economy, and even for a carbon-based global energy system. This town-cum-city serves as staging area for the development of the Athabasca oil sands, a deposit of bitumen covering an area of northeast Alberta ...

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13. Spectacular Enclosures of Hope: Artificial Islands in the Gulf and the Present

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pp. 293-316

In José Saramago’s allegorical short story “The Tale of the Unknown Island” (1999), the unnamed protagonist of the fable demands of his king a boat. Once royally gifted, the man proposes to set sail on a voyage of discovery in search of “the unknown island.” The king, on hearing the request and proposition, scoffs, ...

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Conclusion: A Roundtable on the Affective Turn

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pp. 317-326

Ecologies of Affect started with the ambition of demonstrating the importance of affect in everyday urban experience. As themes emerged, we realized that they themselves overlapped. We therefore wanted to make a place for these intersections between and across the chapters and to address the ways in which the sum of the book was more than its individual parts. ..

List of Contributors

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pp. 327-330


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pp. 331-346

Series Page, Further Reading

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pp. 357-358

E-ISBN-13: 9781554583126
E-ISBN-10: 1554583128
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554582587
Print-ISBN-10: 155458258X

Page Count: 360
Illustrations: 37 b/w illustrations
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Environmental Humanities