[URBANTH-L]Call for Papers: IASTE 2010 'The Utopia of Tradition'

Sophie Gonick gonick at berkeley.edu
Mon Sep 21 14:23:20 EDT 2009



IASTE 2010
15-18 DECEMBER 2010


In recent years IASTE scholars have examined traditions and their multitude
of built forms in an
increasingly interconnected global landscape. To advance this effort, this
conference seeks to study
how tradition inspires and informs changing concepts of utopia in theory and
space. Utopian
theories and plans emerge from a complex symbiotic relationship with
traditions that are based on
notions of the ideal. Indeed, utopias cannot be understood without
understanding the traditions
from which they develop.

At its etymological root, utopia embodies both the theoretical paradox of an
ideal place, eu-topia, and
a non-place, ou-topia, rendering it an impossibility. As an ideal place,
utopia relies on tradition, but as
a non-place it attempts to negate it. Although most utopias have spatial
manifestations, they often
attempt to harness and make static the traditions used to create these
spaces. The geographies of
utopia physically ground tradition, but tradition simultaneously controls
these very same
geographies. This contemporary moment of economic crisis necessitates a
re-examination of this

The word “utopia” is no longer as commonly referenced in professional
practice as it was a few
decades ago. However, architects, planners, and politicians continue to look
for and disseminate
notions of ideal forms. Regulated by ethnicity, religion, or race, the
identity enclaves of many
modern nations use territory to perpetuate the vision of a perfect community
based on specific
traditions. The continuation and strengthening of tradition, cloaked in the
language of utopia, may
thus be seen to provide the focus for new gated communities in the
developing world, the
dreamscapes in cities around the Persian Gulf and the Pacific Rim, and the
faux-colonial homes in
American suburbs. On the other hand, there is an emerging discourse that
reconceptualizes utopia
itself, not as a product but as an open process aimed at transforming,
rather than transcending, the
existing condition.

Perhaps the relationship between utopia and tradition can best be understood
by examining
dystopia, utopia’s twin other. Dystopia finds its clearest manifestation in
literary and filmic
representations, such as 1984 and Blade Runner, which embody complex
imageries of terror, control,
and urban anxiety. Tradition, in these brave new worlds, has often been
explicitly rejected, and new
forms are introduced as alternatives.

The historical development of utopia both draws upon and creates anew
certain traditions of space,
citizenship, and government. Those engaged with the idea of utopia have
always come back to its
physical realization within space, however elusive and/or illusory. In
writing his Republic, Plato drew
heavily on Greek traditions of warfare, civic engagement, and physical form,
while Augustine of
Hippo’s City of God was a response to a particular moment of empire and
decadence. Thomas More
created a sketchy ideological geography of ‘no place’ as a mythical island
with a-spatial intonations.
Since the Renaissance, when architects and artists such as Vitruvius
searched for the citte felice,
practitioners have tried to create physical spaces that would provide
Eden-like environments for
humankind. In more recent times, the modernist schemes of Ebenezer Howard
and Le Corbusier
envisioned ideal spaces that claimed to erase difference. This IASTE
conference will focus on the
theme of utopia and tradition in the twenty-first century.

The conference will attract an interdisciplinary group of scholars and
practitioners from around the
world working in the disciplines of anthropology, architecture, art and
architectural history, city and
regional planning, cultural studies, geography, history, landscape studies,
sociology, and urban
studies. They will present papers related to the following three themes:

Track 1. Utopian Ideals versus Traditional Physical Realities.
Central to the conference theme is the main tenet that utopias use tradition
in their formulation and
perpetuation of the ideal. Inquiries regarding attributes of utopia that may
be rooted in certain
traditional practices are encouraged in this line of inquiry. This track
seeks to explore the
convergence of ideals and realities as well as the underlying concepts of
utopia and how they relate
to a given traditional context or are manifested in space.

Track 2. The Practices of Utopia and the Politics of Tradition.
The deployment of tradition demands a certain selectivity that negates some
forms of the past while
celebrating others, making this exercise inherently political. In
constructing utopias, practitioners
also draw upon traditional discourses, practices, and forms, thus
politicizing the quest for ideal
communities. A key component in interrogating utopia and tradition is the
political backdrop against
which they occur. Examining the linkages between utopias, politics, and
tradition, papers in this
track are encouraged to investigate how tradition is deployed within the
political sphere, and the role
the state plays in formulating notions of community and governance.

Track 3. Utopia and the Space of Difference
By the end of the twentieth century, the crisis within modernism and the
critical opposition to
authoritarianism had caused a retreat from the idea of utopia as an ideal
and perfected spatial form.
This track seeks to examine new concepts of utopia that have risen to
question its previous
incarnations and established traditions. Papers in this track are encouraged
to explore how the latest
utopias have become more of an open process that engages both the present
condition and the
forbidden, the unseen and the marginalized, straying from the imagined
idyllic landscapes towards a
new politics of difference.

Please refer to our website www.ced.berkeley.edu/iaste for detailed
instructions on
abstract submissions. A one page abstract of 500 words and a one page C.V.
are required. For
further inquiries, please email IASTE Coordinator Sophie Gonick at
iaste at berkeley.edu.
Proposals for complete panels are welcome. All papers must be written and
presented in English.
Following a blind peer-review process, papers may be accepted for
presentation in the conference
and/or publication in the Working Paper Series.
Contributors whose abstracts are accepted must pre-register for the
conference, pay registration fees
of $400 (which includes a special discounted $25 IASTE membership fee), and
prepare a full-length
paper of 20-25 double-spaced pages. Registered students may qualify for a
reduced registration fee
of $200 (which includes a special discounted $25 IASTE membership fee). All
participants must be
IASTE members. Please note that expenses associated with hotel
accommodations, travel, and
additional excursions are not covered by the registration fees and have to
be paid directly to the
designated travel agent. Registration fees cover the conference program,
conference abstracts, and
access to all conference activities including receptions, keynote panels,
and a tour of the Beirut
Central District.
February 12           Deadline for receipt of abstracts and CVs
May 5                      Notification of accepted abstracts for
July 15                   Deadline for pre-registration and full paper
submissions for possible
publication in the Working Paper Series.
October 5                Notification of accepted papers for the Working
Paper Series
December 15-18     Conference program
December 19, 20, 22, & 21 Optional trips

Nezar AlSayyad, IASTE President, University of California, Berkeley
Mark Gillem, IASTE and Conference Director, University of Oregon
Howayda Al-Harithy, Local Conference Director, American University, Beirut,
Sophie Gonick, IASTE and Conference Coordinator, University of California,
Leila Solh, Local Conference Coordinator, American University, Beirut,
Lanbin Ren, Conference Administrative Assistant, University of Oregon
Vicky Garcia, CEDR Conference Administrator, University of California,

Eeva Aarrevaara, Hesham Khairy Abdelfattah, Heba Farouk Ahmed, Joseph
Aranha, Greig Crysler,
Howard Davis, Mona Harb, Hildegarde Heynen, Anne Hublin, Samir Khalaf,
Duanfang Lu, Jala
Makhzoumi, Robert Mugerauer, Sylvia Nam, Mina Rajagopalan, Ipek Tureli,
Montira Horayangura
Unakul, Dell Upton, Marcel Vellinga

Center for Behavioral Research, American University of Beirut
Department of Architecture and Design, American University of Beirut
College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley
Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley
School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon

The conference will be held at American University of Beirut’s West Hall
with accommodation at
nearby hotels. In order to be able to obtain special room rates,
reservations should be made online,
over the phone, or through email at the conference hotel:

Gefinor Rotana Hotel, Hamra, Beirut, http://www.rotana.com/property-6.htm,
gefinor.hotel at rotana.com

Other accommodations with a special IASTE discount:

Casa d'Or Hotel, Hamra, Beirut, http://www.casadorhotel.com/, E-mail:
Info at casadorhotel.com

Two optional one day trips are offered at participant’s expense to Byblos
and Tripoli, or to Baalbek
and Anjar, on Sunday, December 19, 2010.

A two day/two night trip to Damascus, Syria, is also available on Monday,
December 20-
Wednesday, December 22, 2010.

To participate in any of the three additional trips, please contact Mr.
Charbel Salem, Nakhal Travel,
http://www.nakhal.com, E-mail: tours at nakhal.com.lb or charbel at nakhal.com.lb

Note: An additional visa may be necessary for travel to Syria. Please check
with your local consulate.

Please use the following information when making inquiries regarding the

Mailing address:
IASTE 2010
Center for Environmental Design Research
390 Wurster Hall #1839
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-1839

Phone: 510.642.6801
Fax: 510.643.5571
E-mail: iaste at berkeley.edu
Website: www.ced.berkeley.edu/iaste

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