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Peter Niedermüller er professor ved Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Berlin.
Bjarne Stoklund (1928-2013) var professor i europæisk etnologi ved Københavns Universitet (1971-96) og inspektør på Frilandsmuseet 1958-71. Forfatter til en lang række etnologiske artikler og bøger, bl.a. Tingenes Kulturhistorie: etnologiske studier i den materielle kultur (2003).
The current issue of Ethnologia Europaea deals with new researches in the field of urban studies. Ethnological research of urban culture and pean Ethnology and it still does not represent the main trend in this field. But on the other hand urban culture – there is a growing number of ethnological urban studies.These new interests in urban culture and society are inseparable from the economic, political and social transformations, which characterize social life since the 1980s. Globalization, post-Fordism, late capitalism and reflex-ive modernity are key terms within current social theories, which try to name and describethe contemporary process of structural transformation. The collapse of socialism, the end of the cold war, and a global geopolitical restructuring, the trans nationalization of production,the globalization of the money-market, and the restructuring of labour processes, the gradual dissolving of social classes and traditional so-cial milieus, the speed and instantaneity of mass communication, new forms and patterns of transnational migration.These are only some examples of the fundamental transformations, which challenges essential principles of modernity. And the cities play a crucial role in this process, in today’s changing world. Cities are places where these transformations take place, but at the same time cities represents these changes as well. It means that ethnologists can observe and describe social changes in contemporary urban settings on the one hand, and on the other investigate the changes of a city as symbolic representations of social transformation. Andexactly this point, the changing character of urban life and its representation in contemporary Europe occupies a central position in this issue.Many of the papers focus on the topic how there building of a city represent social change. Ulf Stahre’s paper concentrates on urban social movements in Stockholm since the end of the 1960s. He presents a short history of the first "neighbourhood movement" which protested against the rationalistic rebuilding of the city and came to an end around 1980. The contemporary protest movement, which is very different from the earlier one, is directed against there building of Stockholm into a global city.The political and social issue of turning a national capital into a global city is the topic of Beate Binder’s paper. She analyses the debate in Berlin about the "old/new capital" of Germany. In this discussion the historical argumenta-tion, the politics of history plays a crucial role. The example of the Schloplatz sheds light on how historical ideas and the construction of commemoration sites enable different social groups to construe a political self, a social and a local identity in a city "located" between historical traditions and social utopias.The paper of Cordula Gdaniec takes us to another European city, which from an ethnological point of view is almost totally unknown, to Moscow. The author analyses the social and structural transformation in Moscow that is accompanied and influenced by architectural and urban change. She presents and analyses the main tasks of the city planners: to reconstruct the historic fabric of the city on the one hand, and on the other to provide the basis for a post-modern world city. Margit Feischmidt’s paper deals with symbolic and political struggle over the meaning of a variety of historical and cultural spaces and figures in the Romanian city of Cluj. She interprets the urban space as a symbolic one in which different national memories and historical narratives are inscribed. The paper explains these competing national memories and representations from a historical point of view. The last paper of this issue comes from another theoretical tradition. Stiofn Cadhla studied ethnographically the phenomenon of joyriding in the Irish city of Cork with special regard to its cultural aspects. His main argumentation is that this phenomenon can not be interpreted in the usual theoretical frames of Editorial urbanity does not have a long tradition in Euro-hand one can note a growing interest for cities youth subculture but should be seen in the context of post-modern consumerism. And the conclusion of this paper can be understood as a further perspective for urban ethnological research: "Somewhere between the past () and the future () the present or contemporary seems to disappear. Here is a space or time where contemporary urban ethnography should be at home, here it can play to its strengths".