CFP: How public are our public spaces? A critical approach to the contemporary urban public realm
Paper session at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014, London, August 26-29, 2014
Lucas Melgaço (Vrije Universiteit Brussels - VUB), Georgiana Varna (Scottish Cities Knowledge Centre) and Francesca Menichelli (at VUB from Jan. 2014)
In the late-modern practices of urban development and particularly urban regeneration, much emphasis has been placed on the creation of new spaces for leisure and entertainment, what generally is termed ‘new public space’. Many cities have tried to improve the quality of their environment and their international image by transforming large tracks of land, often in former industrial areas and in close proximity to city centers, into leisure, creative public spaces for locals and tourists alike. From the famous Baltimore waterfront to the London Docklands, from Melbourne’s Federation Square to New York’s High Line project, a plethora of new spaces have been designed and built for ‘the public’.
However, many critics have drawn attention that the new additions to our urban public realm are not as public as they could/should be. The phenomenon of privatisation of public space (Sorkin, 1992; Davis, 1998; Zukin, 2000; Atkinson, 2003), coupled with a higher rate of control and surveillance measures (Lofland, 1998; Davis, 1998, Lyon, 2001), especially after 9/11, has not only led to increased social exclusion, but also to the further erosion of public space itself. At the same time, temporary appropriation of public space by certain groups is viewed mostly in terms of nuisance and conflict. In the contemporary city it has become unclear what it is meant when we say that space is “public”. Do the various users have the same ‘right to the city’? Which (in)formal rules guide conduct in “shared” spaces? Who decides what is meant by “public order”? And crucially: has public space become a commodified good, ‘produced’ to be consumed by a public ‘pacified by cappuccino’, to use Sharon Zukin’s phrase or can we still speak of it as the spatial embodiment of democracy, freedom and identity?
This session puts all these issues under scrutiny and invites papers from the fields of geography but also urban planning, politics, sociology, criminology and other disciplines concerned with the above. We welcome papers dealing with any critical issues related to the state of contemporary urban public space and particularly encourage papers on (but not limited to):
– Order and Conflict in Public Space;
– Policing and Surveillance in Public Spaces;
– The Use of Public Spaces by Youth, the Elderly or other marginalized groups;
– Privatization of Public Spaces;
– Gentrification of Space and Exclusionary Practices of Urban Development;
– Practices of resistance and appropriation;
– New Practices and Emerging Forms of Public Space;
– Public Demonstrations and Other Crowd Events in Public Space;
– The Occupy Movement;
– The Black Bloc phenomenon;
– Graffiti and its Relationship with Appropriating of Spaces;
Applicants should submit a 250-word abstract, including a preliminary title, to Lucas Melgaço (email@example.com), Georgiana Varna (Georgiana.Varna@glasgow.ac.uk) and Francesca Menichelli (F.firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than Friday 7th February 2014. Successful applicants will be notified no later than Friday 14th February 2014.
#dfs #espace_public #espace_privé