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Dr Miriam Meissner

Formerly at Lancaster University

Research overview

Connecting social sciences and humanities concepts and approaches, my research explores the interrelation between cities, creativity, political economy and the environment. In particular, it examines how urban social, media and cultural practices re-mediate and politicize global risks of finance and ecology.


Latest publication: Narrating the Global Financial Crisis: Urban Imaginaries and the Politics of Myth (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming in March 2017).

International collaboration: Research Affiliate at the Cities Project, University of Amsterdam.



In October 2015, I joined the Department of Sociology as a lecturer. Previously, I studied Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Düsseldorf and Cultural Analysis at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (University of Amsterdam), where I have also completed my Ph.D.

Current Research

1. My current work critically explores the politicisation of accumulation in (a) international popular culture and (b) European urban development projects and policymaking. It analyses individual and collective initiatives that promote practices of reduced work, consumption and waste; resource repurposing; and circular economy. Initiatives analysed range from lifestyle advice on minimalism, de-cluttering private homes, and the ‘life-changing magic of tidying’ (Kondo 2014) – to more established projects of collective resource sharing and reusing. Through the concepts of 'anti-accumulation' and 'housekeeping' the project examines:

  • how these initiative re-frame the relationship between the individual and collective resources of time and habitat, goods and capital, communication and information, and energy and attention 
  • how they relate to the discursive politics of the present 'post-ecological condition' (Blühdorn & Welsh 2007)    


2. The other research project I am working on at the moment explores the role of urban imaginaries in shaping the future of urban politics, communities and environments. It includes the co-editing of a multidisciplinary handbook on urban imaginaries (with Routledge, co-edited with Christoph Lindner).


Both projects build on and extend my research on urban imaginaries in global financial crisis narratives; urban waste, excess and abandonment ('Global Garbage'); and 'slow art' in urban creative redevelopment.



Forthcoming (March 2017)

Narrating the Global Financial Crisis: Urban Imaginaries and the Politics of Myth (Palgrave Macmillan)

Using examples from film, literature and photography, this book analyzes how the Global Financial Crisis is portrayed in contemporary popular culture. In particular, the book explores why particular urban spaces, infrastructures and aesthetics – such as skyline shots in the opening credits of financial crisis films – recur in contemporary crisis narratives. Why are cities and finance connected in the cultural imaginary? Which ideologies do urban crisis imaginaries communicate? And, how do these imaginaries relate to the notion of crisis? To consider these questions, the book reads crisis narratives through the lens of myth. It combines perspectives from cultural, media and communication studies, anthropology, philosophy, geography and political economy to argue that the concept of myth can offer new and nuanced insights into the structure and politics of popular financial crisis imaginaries. In so doing, the book also asks if, how and under what conditions urban crisis imaginaries open up or foreclose systematic and political understandings of the Global Financial Crisis as a symptom of the broader process of financialization.


Global Garbage: Urban Imaginaries of Waste, Excess and Abandonment (eds Christoph Lindner and Miriam Meissner; Routledge).

The edited volume Global Garbage examines the ways in which garbage, in its diverse forms, is being produced, managed, experienced, imagined, circulated, concealed, and aestheticized in contemporary urban environments and across different creative and cultural practices. The book explores the increasingly complex relationship between globalization and garbage in locations such as Beirut, Detroit, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Manchester, Naples, Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Tehran. In particular, the book examines how, and under what conditions, contemporary imaginaries of excess, waste, and abandonment perpetuate – but also sometimes counter – the imbalances of power that are frequently associated with the global metropolitan condition. It appeals to the fields of anthropology, architecture, art history, film and media studies, geography, urban studies, sociology, and cultural analysis.


Slow Art and the Creative City: Amsterdam, Street Photography, and Urban Renewal (co-authored with Christoph Lindner, article in Space and Culture 18.1: 4-24)

Global cities have been studied predominantly in terms of speed and movement, acceleration and circulation. This article examines the relationship between globalization and cities in terms that run counter to such emphases, focusing instead on slowness as a condition in contemporary urban life. Drawing on Jamie Peck’s critique of the creativity syndrome in urban policy, we analyze a series of street photography projects in the city of Amsterdam in order to examine the role of 'slow art' in neoliberal urbanization and city profiling. In its capacity to interrupt movement and redirect visual attention, slow art resists both the acceleration of everyday life and the rapid transformation of social space in the global city. Yet, exploited by urban creativity policies, slow art can simultaneously contribute to the gentrification and commodification of cities. We argue that slowness and creativity are deeply implicated in contemporary reshapings of urban social space and that their interrelations merit closer study.


Questioning Urban Modernity (co-authored with Pedram Dibazar, Christoph Lindner and Judith Naeff, article in The European Journal of Cultural Studies 16.6: 643-58)

This article examines the place and significance of urban modernity as a concept in contemporary urban studies. It draws on postcolonial theory to demonstrate that the relation between the city and modernity developed within the western tradition of urban thinking has produced a geographically and historically uneven conceptualisation of urban modernity. This conceptualisation not only involves dynamics of othering, in which cities are differentiated hierarchically, but also obscures a vast array of possible understandings of contemporary urban living. The aim of this article is to question this way of thinking about urban modernity in light of globalisation and 21st-century transformations of urban space. It argues that it is crucial, now more than ever, to render the concept of urban modernity attentive to the lived experience of contemporary cities worldwide.


Portraying the Global Financial Crisis: Myth, Aesthetics and the City (article in NECSUS – European Journal of Media Studies 1.1: 98-125)

This article examines the role of urban imaginaries in filmic and photographic portrayals of the financial crisis of 2008. It develops Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes’ concepts of myth as tools of narrative and aesthetic analysis to show how, via their use of urban imaginaries, contemporary crisis film and photography indicate, interrelate, and render iconographic key inconsistencies that mark popular ways of interpreting the 2008 financial crisis. In particular, the article analyses imaginaries of architectural geometries, skyscraper aesthetics and corporate glass facades in popular crisis visualizations. The article concludes by questioning the political implications of these forms of crisis portrayal. It proposes to read urban imaginaries in crisis portrayals as symptoms of a crisis in contemporary economic thought and cultural/media representation. Therefore, urban imaginaries can be taken as points of departure for a critical discourse analysis of financial crisis media coverage.

Current Teaching


MCS 101: Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies

MCS 200: Critical Cultural Theory

SOCL 210: Virtual Cultures

MCS 224: Media and Visual Culture

SOCL/MCS 360: Independent Dissertation Project


MCS 101: Introduction to Media and Cultural Studies

MCS 200: Critical Cultural Theory (seminars)

MCS 224: Media and Visual Culture

SOCL 324: Media in a Global Age

SOCL/MCS 360: Independent Dissertation Project

SOCL 949: MA Dissertation

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