Lieven Ameel profile picture
PhD, docent

Areas of expertise

comparative literature
literary urban studies
urban planning theory
environmental humanities


I work as senior research fellow at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, with an affiliation at the unit of Comparative Literature. My research project deals with “Narratives of the Urban Waterfront in Crisis. Negotiating Possible Futures of Post-Industrial Harbour Cities”.

I received my PhD from the University of Helsinki, Finland and JLU Giessen, Germany in the fields of Finnish literature and comparative literature (2013).

I’m Adjunct Professor (Docent) in urban studies and planning methods at the Tampere University of Technology.

Co-editor of the Palgrave Literary Urban Studies Series. Member of the editorial board of the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies.

In previous years, I've worked as university lecturer in comparative literature at the University of Tampere (2015-2017) and as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki (2013-2015, 2017).

More information can be found here:


Narratives of the Urban Waterfront in Crisis. Negotiating Possible Futures of Post-Industrial Harbour Cities

3-year research project, carried out at the University of Turku (2018-2020)

Lieven Ameel / lieven.ameel [a]

Cities by the water are situated at the forefront of global change, both as economic engines, as nodes in global information networks, and as sites that are vulnerable to environmental change and the effects of global dislocations. In literary fiction and in planning documents envisioning the urban waterfront, narrative strategies are central in framing such challenges and in negotiating between possible futures. Continuing earlier work in literary urban studies and narrative planning, this project will analyse literary and planning narratives of the urban waterfront in crisis in three case studies, opening up new avenues of research and aiming its impact at the research community, the planning community and the broader public.

This research project analyses narratives of the post-industrial urban waterfront from two distinct, but intermingling perspectives. A first point of focus is on how narrative fiction frames the experience of the waterfront in crisis, and how literature presents possible futures and alternative courses of action in the face of crises. Second, the project will analyse how, in planning and policy documents of the waterfront, the simultaneous possibility of alternative storyworlds structures the way planning narratives are shaped. This research is interested, in particular, in how competing alternative storyworlds organize the narrative dynamics in both contemporary literary narratives and policy documents, juxtaposing desirable with undesirable storyworlds, and identifying moments of agency – the possibility to act towards a particular future. Three case studies will be addressed: the development of post-industrial waterfronts in Antwerp (Belgium), Helsinki (Finland) and New York City (US) in the period 1990–2015. The juxtaposition of these two different sets of texts will put into greater focus the sense of urgency of many of the literary texts examined, while simultaneously drawing out the profoundly rhetoric and narrative strategies underlying policy documents.

Drawing on methodologies from literary and narrative studies, the analysis of crisis narratives in the context of three post-industrial harbours will gain new understanding of how urban crises and their solutions are couched in narrative terms. The specific emphasis on storylines related to the threat of rising sea levels in both sets of data adds further focus and, in terms of impact, further urgency.


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