Spaces of Vernacular Creativity

Rethinking the Cultural Economy

by Tim Edensor, Deborah Leslie, Steve Millington, Norma Rantisi

Series: Routledge Studies in Human Geography

Creativity has become part of the language of regeneration experts, urban planners and government policy makers attempting to revive the economic and cultural life of cities in the 21st century. Concepts such as the creative class, the creative industries and bohemian cultural clusters have come to dominate thinking about how creativity can contribute to urban renewal. Spaces of Vernacular Creativity offers a critical perspective on the instrumental use of arts and creative practices for the purposes of urban regeneration or civic boosterism.

Several important contributions are brought into one volume to examine the geography of locally embedded forms of arts and creative practice. There has been an explosion of interest in both academic and policy circles in the notion of creativity, and its role in economic development and urban regeneration. This book argues for a rethinking of what constitutes creativity, foregrounding non-economic values and practices, and the often marginal and everyday spaces in which creativity takes shape. Drawing on a range of geographic contexts including the U.S., Europe, Canada and Australia, the book explores a diverse array of creative practices ranging from art, music, and design to community gardening and anticapitalist resistance. The book examines working class, ethnic and non-elite forms of creativity, and a variety of creative spaces, including rural areas, suburbs and abandoned areas of the city. The authors argue for a broader and more inclusive conception of what constitutes creative practice, advocating for an approach that foregrounds economies of generosity, conviviality and activism. The book also explores the complexities and nuances that connect the local and the global and finally, the book provides a space for valuing alternative, marginal and displaced knowledges.

Spaces of Vernacular Creativity provides an important contribution to the debates on the creative class and on the role of value of creative knowledge and skills. The book aims to contribute to contemporary academic debates regarding the development of post-industrial economies and the cognitive cultural economy. It will appeal to a wide range of disciplines including, geography, applied art, planning, cultural studies, sociology and urban studies, plus specialised programmes on creativity and cultural industries at Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels.


  • Taylor and Francis; October 2009
  • ISBN: 9781134018451
  • Edition: 1
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure ePub format
  • Title: Spaces of Vernacular Creativity
  • Series: Routledge Studies in Human Geography
  • Author: Tim Edensor (ed.); Deborah Leslie (ed.); Steve Millington (ed.); Norma Rantisi (ed.)
  • Imprint: Routledge

About The Author

Tim Edensor teaches Cultural Geography at MMU. He is author of Tourists at the Taj (1998), National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (2002) and Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality (2005). He is currently researching landscapes of illumination, geographies of rhythm and urban materiality.

Deborah Leslie is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Toronto. She is interested in the role of cultural industries in urban economic development, and has done research on a range of industries including design, fashion, art, furniture, advertising and more recently the circus. She has related research interests in the creative city initiatives and urban governance, and in the geography of commodity chains. She is author of a number of publications relating to these topics.

Steve Millington is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests include landscapes of illumination, vernacular creativity and geographies of play. He is co-author of Cosmopolitan Urbanism (2006) and has recently published journal articles in Global Networks and Sociology.  

Norma M. Rantisi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Planning & Environment at Concordia University (Canada). She is author and co-author of numerous articles on the themes of fashion design, the cultural economy and policies governing design in urban settings. She has co-edited two special journal issues: one for Environment and Planning A on the creative economy and one for The Journal of Economic Geography on relational economic geography.