Ongoing Projects

Projects awarded funding at the announcement made in January 2016

Konstnärlig verksamhet i kreativa städer

Alf Arvidsson, Department of Culture and Media Studies

This application is for a research overview for a project on how political decisions to make culture a distinct part of urban planning in forms of ”creative cities” have consequences for the artistic work, in terms of general tendencies as well as the specific formatting of individual art works. Central research problems are processes of prioritization, international cutting.edge vs. regional distinction, institutions vs. independents, and the artist-audience-relation. One starting point is that several different motivations can be working behind deliberate political programs, and this can affect what artistic forms that will be rewarded, who is given artistic opportunities and the artistic results. The project aims to contribute to deeper knowledge on, and understanding of, processes where place and creativity are connected, on the artistic challenges in connecting to culture policy ventures, on changes in the expectations and opportunities of the artist role, and to contribute to a development of theory and method in the humanities.

”Legacy” as an urban planning concept on the occasion of Euro-pean Capitals of Culture

Rolf Hugoson, Statsvetenskaliga institutionen och CERUM

The concept of “legacy” received central attention through the 2004 Palmer Report, an evaluation of the European Capitals of Culture programme. The concept soon appeared as a compulsory focus. Thus, in Umeå’s application “Curiosity and passion” we find the headline “the legacy”; although in the Swedish version this is translated into “After 2014…”.

In general, ”legacy” means ”heritage” or ”a gift from the past”. This became a planning concept when Atlanta arranged the 1996 Olympics. After the games arenas and residences for visiting athletes had to be accounted for. This was not a new problem in the modern history of the Olympics, but At-lanta’s focus on its urban “Olympic Legacy” was an innovation adopted also in later plans and evaluations of summer and winter games.

The project “Legacy as an urban design concept” aims at clarifying the meaning of this international planning concept as it has been used in rela-tion to Capitals of Culture since 2008, in planning the events as well as in evaluations and historywriting afterwards. Umeå is an interesting exam-ple. The project will result in a paper which shall also shall take account of the relationships between “legacy” and the ambiguous concepts of “culture” and “sustainability”. The method is conceptual analysis focusing policy and politics in the spirit of Kari Palonen.

Do Houses of Culture help create a just city for all?

Chris Hudson, Statsvetenskap 

Ulrika Schmauch, Sociologi 

Linda Sandberg, Umeå centrum för genusstudier (UCGS) 

This project aims at conducting a pilot study and develop a research application for a larger comparative study of the role of houses of culture in relation to social justice and the right to the city. In the pilot study we aim to look at Väven and Lokstallarna in Umeå and Kulturhuset, in Tromsö to gain further knowledge about participation in culture as well as the role of culture in creating urban development. What are the pitfalls and strengths in the establishment of houses of culture? The three cases provide examples of different ways to make places of culture and their contribution to the city. In the pilot study two sets of methods will be used: a) Critical policy analysis of Umeå and Tromsö policy documents and official statements regarding opportunities provided by a House of Culture and the role of culture in creating an attractive city; and b) In-depth interviews with city officials, politicians etc. in Umeå and Tromsö. Special focus will be on their understanding of Houses of Culture and the importance of these for inclusion and the right to the city.

Projects awarded funding at the announcement made in December 2014.

Tales of a City: Sámi Elements in Umeå 2014

Anne Heith, Institutionen för kultur- och medievetenskaper

I hereby apply for the funding of one month’s reserach (75000 SEK). The aim is to develop research begun during 2014. During the project period I will prepare a paper for the conference ”New Narratives of the Postcolonial Arctic”, Roskilde University, May 27–29, 2015. A paper proposal with the title “Tales of a City: Sámi Elements in Umeå 2014” has been submitted and accepted. Furthermore the purpose of participating in the conference in Roskilde is to establish contacts with the research group Arctic Encounters – Contemporary Travel/Writing in the European High North which has received funding from the EU. A third purpose with the project is to prepare an application for the funding of the writing of two scientific articles that will be submitted to peer review journals.

The material that will be examined in the paper to be presented at Roskilde University is: 1)the series of exhibitions “Eight Sámi Artists” at Bildmuseet, Umeå, 2) two presentations in connection with conferences in Umeå, October 2014, by the artistic director of Umeå 2014, 3)a TV-program broadcasted live from the opening of Umeå 2014. Through the use of postcolonial theory the project’s analysis of the material will examine how different narratives of Umeå as a European Cultural Capital are established.


Robert Sörensson, Centre for Regional Science at Umeå University

The aim of the proposed project is to study the supply side of the cultural and creative industries in Swedish cities and city regions. The study focuses primarily on two dimensions of these industries: structure and change during the time period 1993 to 2013.

Projects awarded funding at the announcement made in September 2014.

Staden som berättelse. Genus, urban folkbildning och narrativa perspektiv i Umeå 2014.

Annelie Bränström Öhman, Department of Culture and Media Studies

The Narrative City is a study of three works of art in public space, in Umeå 2014, which all hold a distinct ”spatio-visual” quality and narrative structure. They may be seen as constitutive – or disturbing – parts of the conceptual narration of Umeå both as city of culture and, foremost, as European Capital of Culture. The three works of art are:

  1. The ”Lev!”[Live!]-tunnel (includes an 170 meter-glass piece by the artist-duo FA+, located in the pedestrian/bike-tunnel at the railway station Umeå C, inaugurated in November 2012. The work is dedicated to the author Sara Lidman, and is part of the ongoing project World’s Library.).

  2. The Sámi glass artist Monica Edmondson’s decoration of ”fasad Forsete” [block Forsete] (Utopia City Gallery and Hotel Winn, block Forsete, finished in 2013), Umeå city.

  3. 8 seasonal short films (filmed by Oskar Östergren), produced for the purpose of framing the narrative concept of the 8 Sámi seasons as underlying structure for the program of Umeå 2014 (ongoing, ).

In all these works questions of place, cultural/indigenous and regional origin are of foremost importance – alongside representations of gender, ethnicity and emotions, in different place specific and narrative contexts. Within the conceptual framework of Umeå 2014 these narrative components can also be seen as educational contributions, situated within the urban context of the city but incorporating a dialogue with the rural history and the complex postcolonial context of Northern Sweden.

Projects awarded funding at the announcement made in april 2014.

Cooperation of schools during Umeå cultural capital 2014

Per Holm, Kultur- och medievetenskaper

Anders Marner,  Institutionen för estetiska ämnen i lärarutbildningen

Tommy Strandberg, Institutionen för estetiska ämnen i lärarutbildningen

Hans Örtegren, Institutionen för estetiska ämnen i lärarutbildningen

This project focuses on cultural events in a school context. The aim is to know more about the effects of cultural implementations for teaching and learning in schools. In this study we study the affordances and some of the projects and applications that concerns schools and pupils active participation in cultural events during Umeå capital of culture 2014. The research is based on official data, empirical documentation, press and information in relation to the Umeå capital of culture 2014. Interviews with stakeholders from the municipality, from schools and group interviews of pupils will take place. Questions of implementation through active participation by pupils in the municipality and the region are analysed.

In Sweden there has been a recent evaluation (2013) of the ”Creative School” strategy and the recommendations summed up was above all to strengthen the cooperation between teachers and artists involved in order to fulfil the cultural aims more effectively. Analysing stratified samples of projects involving pupils, predominantly in the sectors of art and music will give more knowledge of cooperation outcomes between schools and the cultural sector. Students in second year in teacher´s education in Art and Music and in the program of entrepreneurship will be offered to participate in gathering empirical data. The research is planned to continue and aims to develop and broaden the knowledge to regional cooperation between schools, universities and cultural organizations at large.


Lars Westin, Centrum för regionalvetenskap (Cerum)

A European Capital of Culture is a spatially concentrated investment made by many investors in cultural capital. Cities are offered resources with the aim to present them self at the European arena but also to manifest them self against other cities in the urban systems. Macro level relations of the city meets micro structures in the often very local cultural life of the city. This generates a complex and interesting dynamics. Possibilities are given to renew or to support existing structures. But orders are disturbed, if so only within the cultural administration at the city. Reactions vary from involvement to repudiation. This generates an integrated problem complex that connects alternative models for private and public resource allocation, the growth of the city, and the position of the city relative other cities with formation of a cultural capital in the fields between global and local actors as well as the physical location of culture in the urban space- in the center or in the suburbs. Altogether this gives a framework for development of a research program where the positioning of cities and cultural actors may be structured in a way that research not has managed previously.

Minorities, Cultural Negotiations, Changing City and Nation: Sámi Elements in Umeå 2014

Anne Heith, Institutionen för kultur- och medievetenskaper

The aim of the project is to examine the role of Sámi elements in Umeå’s application for ECC 2014 and in the implementation of the program. The primary material will be electronically mediated information (official homepage etc.), printed material produced for dissemination in connection with exhibitions, and exhibitions and events branded as ‘Sámi’. The role of transforming and instable bordering practices producing narratives about ‘us’ and ‘them’ will be analyzed, with a particular focus upon modifications of the paradigm of homogenizing nationalism, characteristic of the modernization of Swedish society. Present day interest in minorities and local, and regional, culture provides a backdrop for the investigation of how Sámi elements are used, and what function they have, in the contexts of the ECC, Sámi cultural mobilization, and the Swedish Government’s minority politics. Umeå’s application for ECC emphasizes the idea that culture plays a major role for growth and success. This theme will be investigated through analysis of “growth and success in what respect?, and for whom?” The project will result in: 1) a paper for the UNeECC conference, Umeå, October 2014, 2) and/or a manuscript which will be submitted to a peer review publication, 3) and an application for external funding for a research project with contributors from different disciplines.

Projects awarded funding at the announcement made in January 2014.

Culture as festival: an explorative study of Umeå as European Capitalo Culture 2014

Alf Arvidsson, Department of Culture and Media Studies

The last 25-30 years the culture sector has gradually expanded and changed, and a previous divide between commercially and public financed spheres has been changed for a relativization of concepts of esthetics and artistic quality and a stronger emphasis on culture as a force of economic growth and a focus on entrepreneurship. One expression of these processes is the  prominent role assigned to festivals and other forms of large-scale events. This project will test if the ECOC year can be analysed as a huge festivalization of culture , and what this means in terms of what expressions and phenomena are suited for inclusion in the festival format, and if the format itself has any artistic productivity. The project will survey previous research models and discuss their applicability. As an empirical test case the inauguration ceremony will be analysed from different perspectives: as a ritual opening, as a representation of Sami culture, as a gesamtkunstwerk and with a media reception study. 

European Capital of Culture for all?

Chris Hudson, Statsvetenskap 

Ulrika Schmauch, Sociologi 

Linda Sandberg, Umeå centrum för genusstudier (UCGS) 

In a period when culture is often promoted as a ´cure for all ills´, it is important to study how culture as a policy field is conceptualized and practiced and how different types of power relations are reinforced, (re)created and/or transformed. Umeå2014 is characterized by an ambition for broad participation, public involvement and citizen empowerment in the “co-creation” of culture.  

The project European Capital of Culture for all? will carry out a pilot study of Umeå2014, mapping and critically scrutinizing some of the ways culture is being used in enhancing public participation during the Capital of Culture year. Drawing on theories of urban justice and focusing on the role culture can play in creating more democratic and just cities, the project asks questions such as - on whose knowledge, perspectives and ideals is cultural policy and activities based?  Do cultural policies and activities reinforce existing unequal power relations or can they contribute to creating more just cities? It will be carried out by an interdisciplinary team (political science, geography and sociology) and will also identify difficulties and conflicts involved in realizing culture’s potential to transform the unequal relations of power.  

The transnational networks of European Capitals of Culture.

Rolf Hugoson, Statsvetenskaliga institutionen och CERUM

Research on European Capitals of Culture (ECoC:s) should connect with the larger field of research, concerned with the dynamic effects of urbanization, the global and transnational import of cities, and finally the foreign policies of cities. The basis for this project is the idea that ECoC:s can be studied as trans-border cooperation projects, where the creation of networks of cities are encouraged.

Taking Umeå 2014 as a starting point, research will be initiated to estimate to what extent ECoC:s accomplish transnational co-operation; methods and models will be developed to improve studies of urban networks. In practice, what kind of networks, competitions and common ambitions are encouraged by cities interested in becoming ECoC:s?

A first focus is co-operation and competition between ECoC:s and ECoC candidates, in part during the candidacies, in part through the official exchange between past, present and future cities. A second focus is on regional networks, as exemplified by the Essex/Ruhr 2010 experience or by Umeå’s cooperation with cities in the county of Västerbotten and in the Norrland region. A third focus is efforts to transform experiences from ECoC campaigns in new co-operations or networks. These can either be directed towards other arts-projects or be concerned with sports events; it appears that the 2014 Commonwealth games ended up in Glasgow despite also Liverpool being a candidate. In Umeå a bid for the Winter Olympics has been hinted at.

The Women's History Museum and local societal change

Kerstin Norlander, Umeå centrum för genusstudier

Liselott Eriksson, Umeå centrum för genusstudier

In September 2010, the Umeå city council decided to found a Women's History Museum, located in the new cultural centre that will be opened in November 2014. This project takes its point of departure in the high ambition put forward in the Women's History Museum policy statement - to create societal change. Three different aspects of change will be in focus. The first concerns the feminist goal in the manifesto which is linked to the local political feminist activism. The aim is to change the common contemporary notion of sex/gender. The second type of changes is related to the local municipality's gender equality policy aiming to advance equal opportunities for men and women living in Umeå. Finally, the third aspect of change is the local politicians ambition to develop Umeå as a city, and their goal to have a town of 200 000 inhabitants the year 2050, and the museum's part of the process of making Umeå attractive as a town to live in for women. Hence, the project address the role of gender equality politics in the discourse of culture driven growth.

Cultural colonisation or arena for participation and self-determination? Analysing the Capital of Culture year in Umeå based on a Sami rights perspective 

Krister Stoor, Centrum för samisk forskning

Annette Löf, Statsvetenskap

The aim of the project is to investigate the preconditions for Sami participation and co-creation in the Capital of Culture year. As an Indigenous people the Sami have the right to self-determination and control over social, cultural and economic development. This recognition forms a basic point of departure for our project. In Umeå’s application for becoming European Capital of Culture the Sami culture was made a central theme. This alone places certain demands on Sami participation and influence in planning and execution. We moreover suggest that the Capital of Culture year can be regarded an expression of new forms and arenas for socio-political governance. The explicit ambition to create “culture-driven growth” reinforces this image. In other words, how Sami rights to self-determination and cultural integrity plays out in practice are brought to the fore through the Sami framing and orientation of the Capital of Culture. Our analysis will therefore focus on questions of Sami participation, representation and influence in terms of how, when and by whom, have been addressed in the planning and execution of the Capital of Culture year in Umeå.

Page Editor: Henrik Norin

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