The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology


Urban cultural movements and the struggle for alternative creative spaces

This fellowship will allow Professor Hollands to further develop some of his previous research on alternative nightlife,(1) the egalitarian arts,(2) smart cities,(3) alternative tourism,(4) and cultural protests,(5) and also explore new case studies of movements and activities such as collective arts and cultural spaces, anti-creative and anti-tourist city protests, and nightlife strikes, amongst others. 


For example, for over a decade, he has conducted research on the Prague Fringe festival as a form of 'alternative cultural tourism', creating new relationships between performers, cultural workers and audiences, and temporarily transforming the urban fabric. He plans to examine festivals in other urban locations in Australia, South Africa, Europe and North American, to see if this is also the case or whether in some cities fringe has been incorporated into mainstream urban branding.  


Additionally, Professor Hollands, in conjunction with a number of  European colleagues, is currently analysing a series of 'nightlife strikes' by young people in Geneva in 2010 in protest against a lack of alternative nightlife space, through the lens of urban social movement theory. Once the squatting capital of Europe in the mid-90s, Geneva has become a rather ‘corporate city’ catering largely to business people and diplomats, squeezing out any alternative nightlife places for its own young people.


Furthermore, he plans to explore the degree to which anti-tourist, anti-gentrification, and anti-creative city protests in cities like Berlin and Barcelona, are developing in other urban locations like Montreal and Toronto. Finally, Professor Hollands will examine what has happened to many alternative cultural venues in cities post anti-squatting and anti-rave legislation, both in terms of the closure of famous sites, the incorporation of others, as well the development of new types of spaces and struggles today.      


In summary, the new research will  seek to provide new social scientific explanations and theories of cultural-based urban movements and activities, produce a series of illustrative case studies of struggles over alternative creative space, and provide policy relevance for a number of 'crunch issues' our cities are currently facing such as increased corporatisation and branding, social polarisation, gentrification and homogeneity.



1. Amazon link - Book "Urban Nightscapes: Youth Cultures, Pleasure Spaces and Corporate Power (Critical Geographies)" 


2. R. Hollands and J. Vail (2012) The art of social movement: Cultural opportunity, mobilisation, and framing in the early formation of the Amber Collective. Poetics  40(1): 22-43.Available open access at Science Direct 


3. R. Hollands (2008) Will the real smart city please stand up?: Intelligent, progressive or entrepreneurial? City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 12(3):303-320.


4. R. Hollands (2010) Engaging and alternative cultural tourism? The case of the Prague Fringe Festival (PFF). Journal of Cultural Economy 3(3): 379-394, and other research studies of the fringe at the Prague Fringe website


5. R. Hollands (2009) Cultural workers of the world unite, you’ve nothing to lose but your theatres: ‘Dny Neklidu’ (‘Days of Unrest’) and the Initiative for a Cultural Prague. City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 13(1): 139-145.