Current Projects

Cultural Flagships: Pathways, Practices and Politics of a Global Urban Type
October 2020 – September 2024
Researchers: Martin Müller (PI), David Gogishvili and Julio Paulos (postdoctoral researchers), Clotilde Trivin (doctoral student)
Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation

This project seeks to achieve two goals: first, to think and characterise cultural flagships as a global urban type and, second, to trace the individual articulations of four cultural flagship exemplars as what it calls global buildings. A database of cultural flagships worldwide will allow drawing more general conclusions on the prevalence, genealogy, context, rationales and outcomes of cultural flagships and tracing the pathways, practices and politics of the cultural flagship as a global urban type. The four case studies are all drawn from cities outside the West, which represent the global frontier of the cultural flagship as an urban type: the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the M+ Museum in Hongkong, the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, the Second World War Museum and the European Solidarity Center in Gdańsk. This choice allows not just examining their (potentially different) positioning vis-à-vis the particular urban type that is the cultural flagship, but also vis-à-vis the global cultural hegemony of the West

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Making, being and becoming rat: Rethinking the city’s relationship with nature
September 2017 – September 2022
Researchers: Nadja Imhof (doctoral candidate), Martin Müller (thesis supervisor)

This research project examines how cities and citizens enact their relationship to nature through their multiple practices towards rats. The long shared history between rats and humans has created an abundance of reactions, narratives, symbolic meanings and practices regarding rats. Whether it is lab rats, pet rats or city rats, they are variously framed to be useful and convenient, smart and cute, and dirty and disposable. As such, the project extends the purview of urban ecology research to the often neglected, unwanted species that, however, form an integral part of urban ecosystems.

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Thinking with the Global Easts
August 2016 – ongoing
Researchers: Martin Müller

Carving up the world into Global North and Global South has become an established way of thinking about global difference. This binary, however, erases what this project calls the Global East – those countries and regions that are often labelled post-socialist and are neither clearly North nor South. This project seeks to think the Global East as that unbounded region which is suspended between globalising processes and the legacies of multiple transformations from imperialism to communism to neoliberalism and neopatrimonialism. It works through cases ranging from IKEA to Sci-Hub to recover the Global East for scholarship and probes the distinctiveness of its contribution for a global theorising of state, cities and society.

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