Cultural Mapping: Politics, Poetics, Policy

Toronto map

February 6, 2012 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Chicago Cultural Center
78 East Washington St.
Garland Room

Daniel Silver, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto

Cultural policy-makers increasingly use cultural maps. Why? Toronto's recent report, From the Ground Up: Growing Toronto's Cultural Sector, provides an instructive case study in the politics, poetics, and policy outcomes of cultural mapping. Local political controversies about affordable artist housing and intense real estate development generated interest among city officials in developing new ways of visualizing and interpreting where Toronto's cultural activities are located. Cultural mapping emerged as a rhetorically potent policy tool able to build bridges across departments such as Planning and Culture and win support from city councilors to integrate cultural policy into the City's official planning process. Cultural mapping is thus best understood pragmatically, as a practice with an array of uses that appeal to specific actors differently depending on the concrete problems they are facing.

Daniel Silver is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. He edited From the Ground Up: Growing Toronto's Cultural Sector, wrote its chapter on "The Economic Importance of Cultural Scenes", and has authored or co-authored a number of papers on the role of culture in urban development, such as "Scenes: Social Context in an Age of Contingency" (2010), "The American Scenescape: Amenities, Scenes, and the Qualities of Local Life" (2011), "Scenes, Innovation, and Urban Development" (2011), "Buzz as an Urban Resource" (forthcoming), "Local Politics in the Creative City: The Case of Toronto" (forthcoming), and "Chicago from the Political Machine to the Entertainment Machine" (forthcoming). He is also the editor (with Carl Grodach) of the forthcoming The Politics of Urban Cultural Policy: Global Perspectives.  Silver earned his PhD from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and was a graduate student researcher at the University of Chicago Cultural Policy Center, where he contributed to Chicago: Music City, A Report on the Music Industry in Chicago.