[URBANTH-L]CFP: Public Space: Text and Context (Morocco)

Angela Jancius acjancius at ysu.edu
Sat Aug 5 05:39:49 EDT 2006

Mohamed I University, Oujda, Morocco
Faculty of Letters and Humanities
Identity and Difference studies group
Announce a conference on

Public Space: Text and Context

15-16 March 2007

Public Space: Text and Context

Call For Papers

 A public space is a place where anyone has a right to come without
being excluded because of economic, social, ethnic conditions. One
of the earliest examples of public spaces is the Agora, where no
fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants
admitted based on background. In ancient times, the agora was a
public square where the exchange of information occurred alongside
the exchange of goods. In the traditional sense, it is a place
where citizens interact. They find an opportunity to hear one
another and are provided a public space for social action. Access
to the public sphere was thus essential to good citizenship without
which no effective democracy would be possible, for citizenship
entitles one to participate in public affairs and decide the fate
of the community, and it presumes access to the public arena where
these political and social issues are discussed and resolved.
Philosophers and social scientists have stressed the importance of
the public space for modern democratic societies and for the
education of the citizen, in Civil Society and the Political Public
Sphere Juergen Habermas defines the public sphere as "a network for 
communicating information and points of view" which eventually
transforms them into a public opinion.

 However, history shows us that even though in theory citizenship
allows one to take part in the affairs of the community, access to
the public arena has always been exclusive, i.e. certain classes;
categories (slaves, women) ethnicities etc have always been barred
from the public sphere. Today, as the example of the developing or
emerging countries demonstrates, good citizenship cannot be
achieved without a certain degree human development. While the
values of democracy are slowly and not always surely making their
way into these societies, the public sphere is still restricted to
a certain educated class. In fact, whole sections of the population
find themselves excluded from it because of poverty and most
importantly because of the lack of education, social, and economic
empowerment. The same situation could also be observed in first
world countries where immigrants and certain ethnic minorities do
not have access to the public space.

 The aim of this conference is to trigger a reflection on topics
related to public space or public sphere as textuality and as
praxis. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary papers
that address issues of public space in connection with literature,
the arts, social action, economic and social empowerment, and all
other forms that give a sense of presence in society and in the
world. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

 Public space and/in literature, the arts and humanities Minorities
and (access to, or in/visibility in) public space Public space and
the politics of social and economic empowerment Public space and
human development Hyperspace as a public space Art and performance in 
urban spaces Public space in urban policies Public space and civil 

 Please send via email (no attachments) an abstract of approximately 
250 words and a short biography/Vita by December 15th 2006, completed 
papers expected by February 15th, 2006. Please note that the reading 
time is limited to 20 minutes per paper (8-9 typed pages). Selected 
papers will be considered for publication, participants are therefore 
urged to conform their articles to the guidelines of the Chicago 
Documentation Style.

 The Faculty of Letters offers accommodation for 2 nights and food
to all participants. Air travel will be at the participants'
charge. A participation fee of 100 USD is required from
international participants; Moroccan Nationals are required to pay
a fee of 300 MAD.

 A website for the conference will be available shortly.

 Please send proposals to Dr Larbi Touaf or Dr Soumia Boutkhil
(Conference Chairs)

ltouaf at yahoo.com
sboutkhil68 at yahoo.com

Greg Smithsimon
Urban Studies Program
Barnard College
418 Lehman Hall, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027
gsmithsimon at barnard.edu / gs228 at columbia.edu

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