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Call for abstracts: Situating the Local in Global Cultural Policy


We are pleased to share a call for papers to be included in a special edition of Cultural Trends. The edition is being delivered by Dr Leila Jancovich in collaboration with Dr Victoria Durrer of Queen's University Belfast, Dr Abigail Gilmore of the University of Manchester, and Dr David Stevenson of Queen Margaret University.

From the growth of city regions to the calls for more localism, engaging with ‘the local’ has become an increasingly important part of cultural policy rhetoric in many countries. Yet despite apparent recognition that the practices of culture are always situated (and hence local), contemporary cultural policy research tends to privilege the national or international as the primary site at which cultural policy is enacted and thus, can be reformed. For all of its increasing use ‘the local’ remains abstract, seeminly deployed to legitimate activity that is of debatable benefit to the places and practices imagined by its invocation.

In opposition to this arguably token localism, abody of work calls for greater recognition of the “situated cultural practices [and] internal logics, histories and structures” of particular places in the study of cultural policy (Gilmore, 2013, p. 86; see also Durrer, 2017). It draws on work that considers the ways in which local relationships and practices of policymaking, convergence, and transference negotiate and manage national and international policies (e.g. Stevenson et al, 2010; Wilson & Boyle, 2004; Johanson et al 2014).

This work has been accompanied by growing rhetoric and advocacy for co-production and citizen-led as well as participatory governance structures (Jancovich, 2015). Attempts to build “adaptive capacity” or resilience among citizens (Pike, Dawley, & Tomaney, 2010) have adopted approaches from social learning (Collins & Ison, 2006) and public participation (Brodie, Cowling, & Nissen, 2009). Many welcome these potentially more democratic approaches and the possibility of a commons of cultural assets, infrastructure, resources and knowledge (Ostrom, 1990; Gonzales, 2014; Murphy & Stewart, 2017).

But questions equally abound about the application and implications of such approaches. Some caution the weakening of local power and decision making by replacing governmental policy (either at a local or national scale) with a neo-liberal governance model, which actively reduces state responsibilities.

It is argued that this approach might perpetuate uneven distribution of resources and instead places responsibility for development on already under resourced communities (Davodi & Madanipour, 2015; Mohan & Stokke, 2000). For example, within the UK contradictions and tensions are demonstrated through an evidenced reduction in the investment in local culture, despite a professed growing interest in and recognition of the local (CMS, 2016).

It appears evident that a better understanding of cultural policy at a local level is imperative to the development of the field. As such, this special edition of Cultural Trends will focus on better understanding how local cultural policy is practised and understood across a variety of locations.

We are therefore interested in papers that attempt to re-situate and position the theories and practices of cultural policy making in local contexts (as opposed to the pre-dominant focus on national and international contexts). Proposal for papers may include empirical research, case studies, and theoretical work in this area, relating to:

  • cultural economies
  • the political economy of local cultural practice
  • place-based initiatives
  • local governance structures
  • collaborative and cooperative models for ownership and shared resources for cultural provision
  • community-led, citizen-engaged and / or participatory cultural policy making alternative models for decision-making processes including deliberative and participatory processes
  • financial distribution of cultural investment
  • interpretations/definitions of culture in, by, and for policy
  • the relationship between the local, the national, and the international
  • the relationship between the informal and the institutional
  • the relationship between government and governance.

We are keen to receive proposals from as wide a range of locations as possible and are interested in approaches to cultural practice that are broad based including, but not limited to: parks, libraries, heritage, fine visual and performing arts, food, craft, voluntary and/or amateur arts, film, animation, digital culture, cultural assets: tangible and intangible (e.g. venues, networks).


  • October 1 2018: submission of initial abstracts of 300–500 words and an accompanying 80-100 author(s) bio to Dr David Stevenson
  • November 1 2018: notification of whether your abstract has been shortlisted and whether you will need write up the full paper
  • March 18 2019: submission of full papers of 5000-6000 words (including all references) for peer review
  • September 2019: following peer review, six papers will be selected for inclusion in the special edition