Cities and Cultures is a critical account of the relations between contemporary cities
and the cultures they produce and which in turn shape them. The book questions
perceived ideas of what constitutes a city’s culture through case studies in which
different kinds of culture – the arts, cultural institutions and heritage, distinctive ways
of life – are seen to be differently used in or affected by the development of particular
cities. The book does not mask the complexity of this, but explains it in ways
accessible to undergraduates.
The book begins with introductory chapters on the concepts of a city and a culture
(the latter in the anthropological sense as well as denoting the arts), citing cases from
modern literature. The book then moves from a critical account of cultural production
in a metropolitan setting to the idea that a city, too, is produced through the characteristic
ways of life of its inhabitants. The cultural industries are scrutinised for their
relation to such cultures as well as to city marketing, and attention is given to the
European Cities of Culture initiative, and to the hybridity of contemporary urban
cultures in a period of globalisation and migration. In its penultimate chapter the
book looks at incidental cultural forms and cultural means to identity formation; and
in its final chapter examines the permeability of urban cultures and cultural forms.
Sources are introduced, positions clarified and contrasted, and notes given for
selective further reading.
Playing on the two meanings of culture, Miles takes a unique approach by relating
arguments around these meanings to specific cases of urban development today.
The book includes both critical comment on a range of literatures – being a truly
interdisciplinary study – and the outcome of the author’s field research into urban
Malcolm Miles is Reader in Cultural Theory at the University of Plymouth, UK,
where he convenes the Critical Spaces Research Group and co-ordinates the doctoral
research methods programme for the Faculty of Arts.