21. November | 2019 - 22. November | 2019

Edge – Creation and Valuation of Novelty at the Margins

International and Interdisciplinary Conference

Cities are routinely eulogized as harbingers of progress and emancipation, as the locus of innovation and creativity. And, in fact, the historical record of cities in engendering artistic, scientific or societal creativity from the ancient Greece polis over Renaissance Florence, Modern Art Paris to New York’s ‘Warhol Economy’ is impressive. More recently, though, discords began to mingle with the harmonious choir praising the allegedly greatest invention of humanity. The fixation with the unique affordances of urban places, as the critique maintains, has systematically impoverished our understanding of creativity in the periphery. To rectify this urban bias, a veritable stream of research initiatives has been launched more recently to push the focus of scholarly debate on creativity from center to periphery, from the urban to the rural. While this challenge of the ontological privilege of the center appears overdue, Edge is not intended to simply shift the view-finder of academic inquiry from one static territorial category to another. Edge rather pursues three more ambitious aims.

First, Edge seeks to push beyond the prevailing perception of periphery as the non- and the beyond-center. The term periphery routinely amounts to hardly more than a residual category for deficient places suffering from a fundamental lack of those quintessential urban qualities that fuel innovation: Jacobs-externalities, Florida-amenities, and Glaeser-density. The first aim of Edge is to critically interrogate this narrow perception, and to move from a deficiency-fixated to an asset-based conceptualization of peripherality. Second, Edge aims at challenging the prevailing understanding of centrality and peripherality as adamant fate sealed by geography and history. Actors might deliberately choose a peripheral position as outsider to shield their creativity from the conformist pressures of the mainstream. Moreover, creative outsiders who transit between center and periphery might catalyze shifts in evaluative frames, and what previously used to be disdained as periphery morphs into a center of a new creative movement. Third, Edge probes into the interrelations between generation and valuation of novelty, and elucidates the dynamic interdependencies between center and periphery: Although peripherality might benefit the inception of novelty, centrality is essential for the valuation and authentication of the value of the novelty.


Gernot Grabher
Urban and Regional Economics
HCU Hamburg

Oliver Ibert
Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS)

About the Event

Thursday, 21 November 2019
9:30 - 17:30

Friday, 22 November 2019
9:00 - 17:30

Representation of the Federal State Hamburg
Jägerstraße 1
10117 Berlin

HafenCity Universität Hamburg (HCU)
Leibniz-Institut für Raumbezogene Sozialforschung (IRS)
supported by:
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

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