Barry McNamara  |   Published January 19, 2023

‘Emergent Spaces’

Anthropology professor Petra Kuppinger serves as editor for book subtitled ‘Change and Innovation in Small Urban Spaces.’

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A big difference can emerge from small urban spaces.

'EMERGENT SPACES': Professor Petra Kuppinger edited book based on conference panel she or... 'EMERGENT SPACES': Professor Petra Kuppinger edited book based on conference panel she organized in 2019.That’s one of the lessons in a new book edited by a Monmouth College professor.

Anthropology professor Petra Kuppinger used a sabbatical during the 2021-22 academic year to publish Emergent Spaces: Change and Innovation in Small Urban Spaces.

The book explores different emergent spaces where diverse urbanites spontaneously negotiate, make and remake urban spaces, create opportunities and produce social change. In doing so, said Kuppinger, they “challenge urban life, culture and politics, or simply ask for their right to the city.”

The book’s focus is on spaces and contexts where change is seeded, regardless of whether it was planned and whether it was or will be successful in the end. The book’s contributors analyze the seeds of change at their very inception in diverse cultural contexts across four continents while attempting to answer a series of questions, said Kuppinger.

PETRA KUPPINGER: Anthropology professor completed the editing process for 'Emergent Spaces PETRA KUPPINGER: Anthropology professor completed the editing process for 'Emergent Spaces' during her sabbatical in 2021-22.“How do small groups of ordinary – and often also disenfranchised – people design, suggest and implement ideas of change?” she asked. “How do they use and remake small urban spaces to better suit their purposes, voice claims to the city, create opportunities, and design better urban lives and futures? The emphasis of the volume is not on the nature of activities and change, but on the minute processes of initiating change.”

Published in December 2021, the book is based on two conference panels Kuppinger organized for the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Vancouver in 2019.

“I brought all the contributors together, organized the publication, wrote the introduction and contributed one chapter,” said Kuppinger, whose chapter explores emergent sustainable commercial ventures and projects in Stuttgart, Germany.

Other chapters offer case studies in Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Pakistan, South Africa and the United States.

Kuppinger joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2000 after earning a doctorate from the New School for Social Research in New York City.

She is the author of Faithfully Urban: Pious Muslims in a German City. Among other works she’s edited is the sixth edition of Urban Life: Readings in Urban Anthropology, the oldest urban anthropology reader of its kind.

Kuppinger has also served as president of the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology (SUNTA), a subsection of the American Anthropological Association.

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