Call for Paper: Symposium: Leaving Traces / Living Politics In The City. Rennes, 22 November 2018

Organised by the GRIEF Laboratory of research (ENSA Bretagne, Rennes, France), and The Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University (Melbourne, Australia)

Public space and life in the polis have always been tightly connected, both in terms of city governance and in the shared actions of its inhabitants. Whether carefully designed or loosely articulated, public space shapes behavior, providing a frame for the norms and rules of society. At the same time, it implicitly invites transgression. From the agora of Athens to the central squares of the former Communist Bloc, from the streets of San Francisco to the paths of the favelas, public spaces are arenas of political expression, where official discourse and unofficial voices meet, overlap and/or come into conflict with one another.

Official channels of political discourse are well-documented and built into the socio-political structures of modern society, but unofficial means of expression are less studied. From explicit forms of protest to furtive integration, we are particularly interested in scenarios where distinctions between official and unofficial political discourses become blurred. This study day will examine how unofficial political voices are made manifest in the urban realm by focusing on one or more of the following questions:

  • What tactics are used to make these unofficial voices ‘audible’?
  • How does political expression turn the city into a space of dynamic visuality?
  • What is the impact of ephemeral events on public space?

By questioning a certain normativity (but not only), the symposium seeks to stress connections and tensions between officially shaped (and designed) public spaces and unofficially used, occupied or appropriated places and/or itineraries. By viewing political expressions – be they official or unofficial – in this way, the symposium also wants to question the very meaning of ‘what is political’.

The symposium invites scholars from the fields of architecture, urban studies, history, political, cultural or social studies and art to engage with these broad concepts. The organizers seek papers that focus on the analysis of both historical and contemporary case studies exploring how the urban realm can shape, frame and even incite political discourse. Presentations can address a range of manifestations in both material forms (from posters, graffiti, art interventions to simple placement of objects) and immaterial practices (rallies, protests, soap boxes, public speeches, art events, etc.).

Send your abstract (300 words) and your short bio (1000 words) to Carmen Popescu (crmv@noos.fr) and Flavia Marcello (fmarcello@swin.edu.au) by 31 July 2018.

The study day will be held on 22 November 2018, and is organised by the Laboratory of research GRIEF, at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne in Rennes, France, and The Centre for Design Innovation at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. It will take place at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Bretagne, 44, boulevard de Chézy, Rennes.

Accommodation will be provided and there is no registration fee but speakers will need to cover travel expenses. A limited number of travel fellowships can be applied for.

Please note that the language of the study day will be French and English.

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