[URBANTH-L] CFP: Public Space and Social Cohesion in the City (St. Petersburg)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Tue Aug 28 16:31:08 EDT 2007




St. Petersbourg, Russia, 3-4 July 2008 

Urban public space continues to be the focus of debate as to its conceptualisation, interrogation and its design and production. In particular, urban public space is increasingly being considered as, on the one hand, productive of a new set of exclusions in the city, but also, on the other, as offering a range of possibilities for the co-existence of strangers in the city. As cities increasingly become the site of multiple cultures and undergo new rounds of regeneration they are also seen as key locus in which new forms of sociability may emerge as part of cosmopolitan urban imaginaries in which 'public space' is considered vital, particularly through the promotion of innovative urban design, new architectural developments and the management of public space, but also in the form of more marginal or 'loose' spaces. However, cities are also sites of a variety of types of 'public' spaces which are 'gated', guarded, surveilled and managed with the effect that access to public space is restricted for certain social groups. Central to these tensions are continuing debates over the meaning of 'public space' and how these link to authority and special (reginal, national, local) politics conducted on behalf of particular forms of publicness.

The conference will therefore continue debates on the status of contemporary urban 'public space' and its potential to generate various forms of sociability. The key focus of the conference is the question of whether we are really witnessing the end of 'public space', or if there are still potentialities for its regeneration and revival in a socially-inclusive way? 

Papers at the conference may deal with any of the following points or other related issues:  

Ø The changing iconography of public space as an indicator of processes of social inclusion or exclusion; 
Ø The role of symbolic townscapes in the creation of urban imagery and the construction of the 'Other'; 
Ø Places and the signs of memory and identity of ethnic, religious, migrant and other subcultures; 
Ø Public space as the scene of contested identities or hegemonic identities - as a common place for all or as different places for different people;
Ø Public space and cosmopolitan urban imaginaries;
Ø Conceptualisations of urban public space;
Ø Ideal urban public space - ordered spaces or 'loose' spaces?; 
Ø Urban public space as a driving force for social change, including innovative urban design and planning.

Researchers and scholars working in social and human studies including anthropology, ethnology, sociology, social and cultural geography, urban design and planning and related fields in urban studies are invited to send abstracts of up to 300 words by December 15th 2007 by e-mail to Professor Svetlana Hristova at sv.hristova at aix.swu.bg. We would welcome also abstracts from post-graduate students and urban practitioners.

Funding is available to support the attendance of a number of conference participants. If you wish to be considered for full financial support, or for a travel grant, please also include a statement of a maximum of one A4 page stating 1) why financial support is necessary for you to attend the conference, 2) how much financial support you are requesting, and 3) what form of financial support you are applying for (i.e. full costs or for travel grant only). Please also send a brief CV.

The conference is the final stage of the international project 'The Re-Imaging of Public Space in European Cities and Its Role in Social and Ethnocultural Integration' which concentrates on the relation between growing cultural pluralization, its vizualization in and through public space, and alternative approaches to managing social change and growing social tensions through urban regeneration and re-appropriation of the urban environment. The project is funded by INTAS and co-ordinated by the South-West University 'Neofit Rilsky' (Bulgaria), with the participation of Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), the Institute for Independent Studies, St. Petersburg (Russia) and the State University 'Ivan Franko', Lviv (Ukraine), and the Center for Intercultural Studies at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht (The Netherlands). 

Dr Craig Young
Programme Leader - Human Geography
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography
Manchester Metropolitan University
Dept of Environmental and Geographical Sciences
Manchester Institute for Social
and Spatial Transformations
John Dalton Building
Chester St.
Manchester M1 5GD

Fax 0161-247-6318

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