[urban interfaces] research group at Utrecht University


Creative Urban Methods: A Call for Contributions

The deadline for this call has passed and the call is now closed. 



Proposals (max. 500 words): April 12, 2023 [e-mail us if you need a bit of extra time]

First versions (2000-4000 words + various multimedia): June 16, 2023 

Please send contributions or enquiries to: urbaninterfaces@uu.nl  



The aim of this collection of online articles for the Mediapolis dossier on creative urban methods is to deepen our knowledge, understandings and perceptions on creative methods, particularly as they relate to cities and the various aspects of urban living. In the context of the multifarious global crises on planetary, societal, and political levels we find ourselves in today, it seems indeed necessary to us to revisit what Haraway (1988) has termed “situated knowledges” and to gather together creative methods that reshape ways and forms of knowing (about) the city. A growing catalog of innovative creative methods for various disciplinary and interdisciplinary urban inquiries demonstrates a wide array of approaches and techniques, ranging from data walking to performative mapping, from experimental ethnography to dramaturgical or interface analysis, and curatorial or action-based research, to explore and activate alternative ways of data collection, analysis, and knowledge production (Verhoeff and Merx, 2021). These creative urban methods are embodied and explorative, as well as experimental and interventionist. They share a perspective on dynamic spatiotemporal and relational structures of urban environments, processes of change and forms of mobility, and on the embodied experiences of the (citizen/academic/activist/artistic) researcher herself. Creative methods acknowledge the intricate dynamics between researcher and the researched object, and reflect on the (power) relations within which these are embedded. Moreover, they build on a multiplicity of disciplines, perspectives, and concepts, enriched in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration. 

We invite researchers from various academic, as well as artistic or design disciplines, to propose innovative and creative ways of “doing theory” for and within cities and various urban, public contexts. We are keen to stimulate debate with reflections on the design and application of creative methods in academic, educational and other research contexts, and on their merits, limitations, and implications as tools for research, design, or debate.  



We seek contributions for a Mediapolis dossier, engaging with one or more of the approaches and questions (A) that touch upon inclusive urban futures, and reflecting on one or more  methodological (B) questions. Contributions contain one or more concrete cases or methods. They may be accompanied by various media, including audio and video material. For more information, see Mediapolis’s submission guidelines 

A. Approaches and questions that contributions may explore:

More-than-Human Cities. How can creative methods allow for more-than-human perspectives on co-inhabiting urban spaces together, not just in embracing human diversity – as has been central in urban theorizing from the outset – but inclusive also of other species and with a responsible and caring attitude towards the environment. How can creative methods for instance offer perspectives and voices to more-than-human entities to be seen and heard?  

Inclusive Cities. How can creative methods give voice to marginalized and subaltern urban communities? In what ways can we understand the lived reality of those populations as a form of creative praxis? How can creative practices foster agency, promote resilience and be institutionalized?  

Future Cities. In the light of climate change, authors like Arundhati Roy have pointed out that we’re dealing with a crisis of our imagination to envision potential alternatives for the future. How can creative methods fill this imaginative gap? How might different ways of observing and representing the city shape imagined possibilities for its future? 

Civic Smart Cities. Digital media technologies become important tools for managing urban services and processes, while simultaneously disappearing from visibility and consequently, from public scrutiny. What methods could increase the legibility of background technologies in today’s city? How can we create new kinds of urban interfaces? How can we make smart urban tech more people-centric, and involve people in the debate?  

Magic Cities. The magic city serves as a potentially productive counterweight to a rationalized approach of urbanism that considers the city as a problem space to be solved. How can creative methods reinsert a sense of the ‘ineffable’ in the study of cities, e.g. through aesthetic, visceral, collective, transformative experiences?

B. Methodological question that contributions may focus on:

  • What (new) urban knowledges can we produce with creative methods?  
  • What criteria can we establish for judging what is valuable/meaningful knowledge production through creative methods, and what are the limitations?  
  • How are urban creative methods different from more traditional and established methods for research on the city? How is this a way of breaking away from dominant knowledge frames and procedures?  
  • Who/what are privileged in and through such approaches and what kind of power relations are produced through these methods? 
  • What is the specific value of creative methods for understanding urban lives, situations, and spaces and how can these complement and/or add to more established, traditional methods? 


Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture is an interdisciplinary online journal of media and urban culture that publishes research across multiple academic fields — including media studies, urban studies, geography, film, architecture, art history, visual culture, digital humanities, sound, and music. Click here to see previous dossiers published by Mediapolis.