[URBANTH-L] CFP: Urban Identity, Power and Space: The Case of Trans-European Corridors (Commission on Urban Anthropology), Tirana

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Wed Oct 18 15:04:02 EDT 2006

From: gbp <G.B.Prato at kent.ac.uk>

Annual Conference of the Commission on Urban Anthropology
International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences


Urban Identity, Power and Space:
The Case of Trans-European Corridors
Tirana,  27-31 August 2007

The programmes for the reconstruction of post-Communist Europe, such as the
Stability Pact for South-East Europe, have been compared to the Marshall
Plan implemented after WWII. These programmes, however, are having a
significant impact not only on post-Communist countries but also on the rest
of Europe and on other areas worldwide. These programmes aim at fostering
peace, democracy, respect of human rights and economic prosperity, through a
shared strategy of stability and cooperation among the involved countries.
To this extent, the construction of the so-called Trans-European Corridors,
also known as Multimodal Transport Network, seems to be playing a central
role in such a strategy.
      The 'Trans-European Corridors' aim at making exchange of goods,
people, oil and other energy supplies easier between the EU, the East and
South-East European states and other areas of the world. They also aim at
improving stability in historically troubled regions of Europe.
      The conference will address the changes that are occurring throughout
Europe in relation to the construction of the Corridors. In particular, it
will focus on urban change, old and new identities and the methodological
issues raised by carrying out research in this new geo-political situation.

The conference will be structured around three main sessions: 1) Corridors
of Power; 2) History and Memories; 3) Anthropology, Research and Local
Spaces. The sessions will follow a sequential order, focusing on specific
aspects of the conference's overall theme. Each session will bring together
papers that speak to each other and stimulate constructive discussion among
the participants..

Session 1. Corridors of Power - Convenor: Dr Italo Pardo, University of
Kent, UK.
E-mail address: i.pardo at kent.ac.uk

The progressive enlargement of the European Union and the subsequent
'restructuring' has led to a redefinition of identities and boundaries,
including, political, economic and symbolic boundaries. Such ongoing process
of redefinition poses disciplinary challenges and the question of how to
link academic research to responsible and legitimate policy.
      The construction of the Trans-European Corridors has brought to a head
critical aspects of this problematic. While the dominant political rhetoric
has portrayed the Corridors as an opportunity for economic development and
integration, they and their ramifications have been either hailed or
vilified at grassroots level, often with equally strong feelings.
Environmental and cultural concerns have been voiced. Economic development
and sometimes conflict have been stimulated, particularly by the growing
participation of the private sector in urban affairs. Legal problems remain
unsolved in highly significant fields, such as the regulation of
international business deals, citizenship rights and cultural conflict. Such
complexity has raised both fundamental issues of legitimacy at the various
levels of the decision-making process and significant questions on how this
process is experienced at the local level, particularly in urban areas; on
how it is affecting urban change and expansion; on what impact the internal
and international demographic movement, particularly, though not only from
outside the European Union, is having on urban life and identity; on the
attendant competition; on whether the new social, economic and spatial
situation is contributing to entrenching or to solving existing problems and
on whether new forms of inequality and exclusion or new opportunities and
forms of integration are instead taking shape. The mixture of graded
timidity and political determinism with which the ruling élite in various
countries have addressed this problematic has visibly compounded on their
difficult relationship with citizenship.
      An anthropological approach based on a contested understanding of the
empirical situation at the local level illuminates key methodological and
theoretical issues with specific reference to relations of power among
different States and between governing élite groups (national and
international) and the rest of society.

Session 2. History and Memories: Roads of Power-Roads of Exchange and how we
came to remember them - Convenors: Gerda Dalipaj and Armanda Hysa, Albania
Academy of Sciences. E-mail addresses: ethno_studies at yahoo.com;
armanda_hysa at yahoo.com

The development of huge communication networks has been historically linked
with the expansion of empires. Communication through roads has been central
to economic, political and cultural unification, as well as to military
domination. Over time, these roads have affected and have been affected by
the changes in economic and political relations. However, although initially
built to serve military purposes for the acquisition of new areas and the
control of those already conquered, they turned out to be roads of exchange,
linking these areas to each-other and to the centre, while reshaping
existing borders. These roads became the source of livelihood for many
communities, also generating a new sense of belonging. People who lived near
them, or made use of them, transformed their space while, in turn, being
transformed by it. These roads encouraged new trades, movement of
population, the creation of new urban settings and the reconfiguration of
existing ones. The changes that they brought about were also reflected in
people's lifestyles, especially as people adjusted to the new circumstances
either through resistance or through cultural, economic and political
      The Trans-European Corridors, which are now being built along ancient
itineraries, are presented as corridors of power and to power. The history
of the old itineraries is being used to stress a past identity and a
re-discovered belonging, or to legitimise the new politics of the involved
states in opposition to those who stress the original military purposes
ignoring the impact they had on economic development and cultural exchange.
      This session addresses historical, social and political issues. It
asks, who built the old roads of communication and why? What were their
itineraries? What were their primary purposes and how have they changed over
time? How did they affect people's life and sense of belonging through new
trading centres, movement of population, new urban settings and the changes
they brought to existing ones, and the reshaping of borders? The session
also addresses the ways in which history and social memory are politically
used, and the extent to which our understanding of 'roads of power' affects
our scientific approach to the study of history, culture and society.

Session 3. Anthropology, research and local spaces: Spatial connections and
representations - Convenor: Dr Manos Spyridakis, University of the
Peloponnese, Greece.
E-mail address: maspy at otenet.gr

Social anthropology has been historically founded on the primacy of
participant observation, which has undeniably shaped the epistemological
'autonomy' of the discipline.
      Participant observation takes place in a specific geographic space,
the field. Space has traditionally been seen as portioned, as divided up
into localities, places, regions. An isomorphism was assumed between
culture/society and place. Cultures had their own places, and the
differences between place-based cultures were believed to be internally
generated and preconstituted. This created a picture of identification of
space with the culture that it 'included' and vice-versa. 'Territorialized'
data gave a sense of 'real' world and a certainty that what one needed to
know about the field could be found in a limited space. Therefore, the field
as a limited space predetermined the information and its interpretation.
      Many anthropologists see this notion of 'enclosed', 'isolated' field
as obsolete. Today, places are seen to function more as palimpsests within
which the game of identity, multiplicity and relations are in an incessant
process of embeddedness and recreation in social, economic and political
terms. Therefore, the anthropological field as a space through which the
social action exists constitutes a means for bringing about the variety of
practices and not their ending, because social action is also affected by
processes that take place outside the anthropological field.
      Through discussion of several contributions, this session intends to
challenge fixed views about space through anthropological work in urban and
other contexts, keeping in mind that space as such is not a neutral entity;
it is, instead,  an interactive entity involving social practices, which in
turn affect the notion of field and of anthropological practice and theory.
The challenge is to see place and space in a way which is not defined in
terms of exclusivity, of contraposition between an inside and an outside and
which is independent of false notions of internally-generated authenticity.
      This session proposes three stimuli for discussion:
1. Space is a product of interrelations. It is constituted through
interactions; from the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny.
2. Space encompasses multiplicity. If space is indeed the product of
interrelations, then it must be predicated upon the existence of plurality.
Multiplicity and space are co-constitutive.
3. Because space is the product of relations, which are necessarily embedded
in actions that have to be carried out, it is always in a process of
becoming; it is always being made. It is never finished, never closed.

Paper proposals should be submitted both to the Session's and the
Conference's Convenors by 31 January 2007. Proposals should include the
paper title, an abstract of 250 words, the author's name, institution,
address and a brief biography. The working language of the Conference will
be English. Paper proposals from scholars from related disciplines are
encouraged. Accepted papers will be notified by the end of February.

Registration Fee: The Conference registration fee will be 20 Euros.
There will be no registration fee for postgraduate students who wish to
attend the Conference.

Output: A selection of revised papers will be published in edited volumes
and in academic Journals.

More information on the Conference can be obtained from Dr Giuliana B.
Prato, Co-Chair of the Commission on Urban Anthropology and Conference
Convenor. E-mail: g.b.parto at kent.ac.uk

Dr Giuliana B. Prato
Co-Chair, Commission on Urban Anthropology
Department of Anthropology
Marlowe Building, University of Kent
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR
Tel.: +44 (0)1227 700366 

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