понедельник, 18 февраля 2013 г.

Public Spaces: new visualities, practices of production and social (re)orderings

Public Spaces: new visualities, practices of production and social (re)orderings

at the 5th International Urban Geographies of Post-Communist States Conference, 2013, September 11th-13th in Tbilisi

The quality of urban space in everyday life, its perception and symbolic meaning depends on the architectural design, its visual appearance, „... which condense and conduct the currents of social time.“ (Holston 1998:37.)

20 years passed since the so called post-soviet, -socialist changes have started, and many of those countries suffered a radical capitalist deregulation, which affected the cities in a manner comparable to those processes in the “west”: (re)privatization of (communal) space, (public) goods etc. as a consequence of a neoliberal globalization. At the first gaze the processes seem very similar, the cities are getting restructured and upgraded, they are getting revamped with steel and glass, and symbolically refurnished. So a redesigning of cities environment followed this restructuring process in New York, London, Berlin, Riga, Astana, Tbilisi, Yerevan, Baku etc. Nevertheless the ways in which those processes in “east” and “west” have been conceptualized in the Urban Studies can be distinguished in two different ways. In the concepts about the changes in “western” cities aesthetic practices and the symbolic economy are focused as main modus operandi. This is opening up new urban spaces of sensual experience, converting cities into industries of entertainment through practices of cultural production, as described by Sharon Zukin (1995), or by terms like mediterranization (Kaschuba 2011), event-city (Bittner 2001) or theming (Beeck 2001). Whereas, strategies of place-making in post-socialist cities are conceptualized within the frameworks of nationalization and production of new memory landscapes (Buchli 2007, Bekus and Medeuova 2011, Manning and Shatirishvili 2009), western cities are perceived as lived spaces.

The question is, whether the processes of re-organizing public spaces are as different as they are being considered to be and whether these processes are pushed by different actors. How do aesthetic and nationalizing practices differ from each other? What are the variables in theoretical groundings of these concepts? What makes these spaces in their qualities as representational, as lived and as perceived spaces (Lefebvre) different? How can we cross the theoretical boundaries in the discussion of urban developments in P.S. cities?

The panel will be opened with an input on contemporary concepts of re-structuring western cities. The participants are asked to prepare (short) inputs for the discussion focused on concrete empirical cases by sketching diverse practices of restructuring P.S. spaces, readings or uses. The ideal way is to enrich the input with visual material (poster or photos) which can be used for a gallery of spatial practices. Here we see a potential for fostering a wider discussion within the CATference.

Contacts:  Madlen Pilz, M.A., madlen.pilz@staff.hu-berlin.de and Dr. Melanie Krebs krebsmel@hu-berlin.de
Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of European Ethnology, Project “Identity Politics in the South Caucasus. National Representation, Post-socialist Society and Urban Public Space”.

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