CfP: Architecture and Democracy 1965-1989: Urban Renewal, Populism and the Welfare State. Rotterdam and Delft, 20-21 November 2019

Call for Papers: Architecture and Democracy 1965-1989: Urban Renewal, Populism and the Welfare State. Rotterdam and Delft, 20-21 November 2019

Jaap Bakema Study Centre
This year, the international conference of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre will investigate how architecture and urban planning can represent, embody and enable democracy. The conference will focus on the years 1965 to 1989, in which welfare state arrangements were contested on both left and right, by counterculture movements and the rise of populism. While government institutions sought a proper response, urban renewal and city repair became a new field of work for architects and planners. Academics and professionals from the architecture field are invited to submit their abstracts before 15 July.
The years 1965 and 1989 have been chosen as the bookends of a transitional period. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was still generally believed that nationalization and collectivization of large parts of the economy were essential in order to achieve fair redistribution, curb wasteful mass production and control inflation. By the end of the 1970s, however, deregulation and free-market ideology were being embraced as the antidote to stifling bureaucracy and economic stagnation.
In the Netherlands, the year 1965 marked the beginnings of the radical anarchist Provo movement, which proposed a set of policy alternatives to failing housing policies, oppressive policing, air pollution, consumerism and car ownership. Although non-violent by nature – in contrast to terrorist groups of the 1970s such as the Red Brigades in Italy and the Rote Armee Fraktion in West Germany – Provo is best remembered for setting off smoke bombs at the royal wedding in Amsterdam, in 1966. More importantly, Provo heralded a turbulent era of urban protest which would last throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Its special contribution was its combination of local action, political agitation and art happenings, addressing real urban planning issues.
1989, which famously saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, is perhaps an obvious choice for the second bookend. Yet along with the subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union and the gradual opening up of communist China to global trade, it marked a new and disruptive world condition – triumphant capitalism –replacing that of the Cold War era.
Where is architecture in this period? How did architects, planners, institutions and the building industry prepare for, and respond to, the shifting conditions – to citizens’ protests and squatters’ movements, the first waves of immigrants from the former colonies, the first awareness of a burgeoning ecological crisis, and feminist critique? The overall picture is far from unambiguous. Whereas some chose to become activists and agents of advocacy planning, others pursued projects for autonomy – sometimes politically, sometimes aesthetically.
In light of the current political and ideological crises in liberal democracies around the world, the conference seeks to probe the complicated relationship between architecture and democracy during the 1965-1989 period. At what intersections was architecture able to propose a new, if precarious, balance between planning and citizens’ empowerment? How did this impact the disciplinary institutions of architecture and its epistemologies? And perhaps more speculatively, where do these shifting conditions leave architecture today, considering questions of democratic values, a ruthless market logic that penetrates all sectors of society, and a divisive populism dominating the public debate?
The following themes are suggested for further elaboration:

  • Urban renewal, local action and citizens’ participation
  • The rise of populism in architecture, both left wing and right wing
  • The hegemony and transformation of welfare state institutions

Please note, the conference organisers not only encourage contributions that illuminate the historical context of the hegemonic West during those decades, but also proposals that investigate the dynamics at play under post-colonial conditions in what was then called the developing world.
The conference builds on the recently launched PhD programme Architecture and Democracy, as supported by TU Delft and Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Practical information. Abstracts of 300-500 words plus a short biography (300 words max) should be sent to Soscha Monteiro de Jesus:
The aim is to publish the conference proceedings.
Dates. Deadline for submissions: Monday 15 July 2019
Notification of selection: Monday 29 July 2019
Submission of full draft papers: Monday 2 September 2019
Conference: 20-21 November 2019
Convener. Dirk van den Heuvel (Jaap Bakema Study Centre)
Advisory Board. Tom Avermaete (ETH Zürich), Hetty Berens (HNI), Guus Beumer (HNI), Maristella Casciato (Getty Research Institute), Dick van Gameren (TU Delft), Carola Hein (TU Delft), Laurent Stalder (ETH Zürich)
Locations. Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft, and Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam.
Selection. The selection will be made by the conference convener and the advisory board of the Jaap Bakema Study Centre. Criteria are relevance and focus in relation to the call, state-of-the-art research, an innovative and challenging approach, and an eloquent and evocative articulation of the proposition. Academics and practitioners alike are invited to submit. We are aiming for a diverse group of speakers, in terms of nationality, seniority and academic and institutional background, among other categories, so as to ensure a productive and lively exchange of knowledge.
The Call for Papers is also available here.

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