Not My City: songwriting as research text

8 July 2020 (conference postponed to 2021)
KISMIF: Keep It Simple Make It Fast, Conference. Porto, Portugal.

in the dark on empty streets deserted parks and alleys […]

The future-oriented utopian cities of urban planning imaginaries sit in stark contrast to actual or existing cities. Behind policies for beautification and rejuvenation is the socio-political ugliness of capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and racism. In some of the most depressed and ugly parts of the city, we can find spaces of resistance based in camaraderie, mutual-aid, care, and joy. My doctoral research looks to marginalized and alternative urban groups for ways to reinterpret, resist, and refuse mainstream urban narratives and planning practices.

[…] feels like time to change my solipsistic life and my errant ways […]

To counter the formal research practices that unsettled me, I respond with a critical autoethnography of the Ottawa punk scene. This counter-narrative interrupts the dissertation text with storytelling interludes. In part, this is done through the counter-form of songwriting as research text. Standing in opposition to the standards of “good” scholarship, the non-contextualized and out-of-place lyrics are filled with unfinished thoughts, partial expressions, multiple meanings, intersecting stories, inconclusive endings, selective legibility, and depths of superficiality. Consciously and subconsciously written to contain and express academic value, punk value, and (inter)personal value, the meaning-making is left to the reader and accepts that there are multiple points of access and denied access.

[…] been here before can never go back 

This presentation will examine the use of songwriting as research text through three songs I composed as critical reflections on the themes of gentrification, placemaking, and storytelling: OTTAWOKE; BIRD KIBBUTZ; and NOT MY CITY.

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