Friday, November 29, 2013

CFP: Designed to improve? Buildings, interventions and the makings of the ‘social’ in interdisciplinary urban practices, 22-24 May 2014, Hamburg

Call for Papers for an international workshop of the ‘AG Architektursoziologie’ of the ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS)’, sections cultural sociology and urban- and regional sociology in cooperation with the University of Hamburg and HafenCity University Hamburg

Designed to improve? Buildings, interventions and the makings of the ‘social’ in interdisciplinary urban practices

22 – 24 May 2014, Hamburg
Deadline: January 12, 2014
Organizers: Dr. Hanna Katharina Göbel (Universität Hamburg), Dr. Monika Grubbauer (TU Darmstadt), Dr. Anna Richter (HCU Hamburg)

In the last three decades interdisciplinary and sometimes informal design and building practices of intervention in urban spaces have established their own field of social expertise for the built environment and questioned the monopoly of urban professionals and authorized city planners. In the face of neoliberal urban policies, state withdrawal, austerity measures and economic crises and disillusioned by institutionalized planning procedures, architects, urbanists, designers, activists, artists with various backgrounds in the performing arts, visual arts, or music, cultural workers and do-it-yourself (DIY) movements intervene in the urban built environment with a view to improve their communities and the lives of their neighbours. Socially engaged building and design practices have an overall focus on action and processes rather than aesthetics only. The outcomes are buildings as well as smaller and temporary interventions into urban spaces. Material change and design are meant to function as agents of specific social transformations. Frequently, inspiration for these kinds of interventions in European and North-American cities is taken from practices of informal urbanism in the cities of the Global South.

These buildings, material interventions and acts of design-activism are partly realized by or with the help of architects and designers, partly without them and sometimes explicitly against them and their authoritative claims on expertise/knowledge. Many collaborations actively involve artistic knowledge and research strategies derived from choreography, scenography, landscape appropriation or conceptual arts. Thus, this field of contemporary socially engaged practices of urban intervention cannot be easily divided by distinguishing between the formal and the informal. Bottom-up building and design practices operate across the boundaries of established disciplines and have created many different versions of interdisciplinary collaboration throughout the years, often also involving sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, or political scientists.

The aim of the workshop is to explore the ways in which interdisciplinary collaboration is performed and knowledges from diverse fields are drawn on in these urban interventionist practices. We are particularly interested to interrogate how knowledge from the social sciences is translated and variously picked up and interpreted in these practices and how they build on explicit and implicit references to concepts of the ‘social’. Can we state that these practices are characterized by the common belief in a certain desired social impact of buildings and urban artefacts? What kinds of references to concepts of the ‘social’ can be found and in what way do they serve to suggest ‘social improvements’ of the current state of affairs? As urban interventions have a history in activism pushing social change, politicization would seem to be key in this field. What kinds of (de-)politicizations and moralizations of social agendas emerge and how do they take shape concerning the performance of buildings and urban artefacts?

The workshop invites contributions from scholars across the social sciences (sociology, geography, anthropology, political science) and the design and arts disciplines that address the above questions and engage with the makings of the social in interdisciplinary building and design practices. We invite perspectives of architectural sociology, critical urban studies, assemblage-urbanism, practice theory and other contemporary paradigms; we are also interested in historical analyses of interdisciplinary building and design practices in the 20th century coming from the history of science, architectural history or related fields. We suggest papers address one of three ways in which references to the ‘social’ and ‘social improvement’ are made in bottom-up building and design practices but papers with different foci are equally welcome:
Laboratorization of processes. Many practices are concerned with the innovation of the process of design itself, often by introducing various forms of empowerment technologies/strategies. For many architects and urban designers – frequently organized in collaborative structures referred to as ‘urban labs’ – the notion of the laboratory has become a widely used metaphor for considering interdisciplinary, experimental and participatory forms of engagement with artists, authorized planners and communities in an isolated and controlled micro-context. In what way does the laboratorization of design processes presuppose positive findings about the social impact of buildings and urban artefacts for other uncontrolled outsides? How does the concept of the laboratory as controlled and consciously created environment relate to the open-ended nature of participatory approaches in design and planning? What kinds of aims does the (metaphorical) use of the laboratory serve?
Fetishization of the built object. A second focus is on the social impact of the material/built object itself. In many socially engaged design and building practices the building and other urban artefacts are meant to represent the successful and ‘socially’ resonant integration of various actors, processes and ideas in order to prove social change. In many cases of gentrification, for instance, the appropriation of derelict structures in inner city environments for new uses is legitimated by deliberately exposing the ‘raw’ and ‘authentic’ materiality of these structures. Similarly, socially engaged architectures, particularly in the cities of the South, are distinguished and legitimated by the use of traditional construction techniques and vernacular materials such as clay, mud bricks and bamboo. How are buildings and urban artefacts fetishized through such references to their materiality? What roles do the empathic perception of materials and authentic modelling play in making buildings and urban artefacts ‘socially’ relevant?
Practiced starry-eyed idealism? Although utopian ideas that buildings of modernism have embodied, are explicitly denied, urban interventionist and design practices undeniably employ a certain register of utopia. This third way of referencing the ‘social’ occurs when certain intellectual concepts are mobilised as a reaction to ecological crises suggesting a ‘better’ future. They stand for the most appreciated impacts of urban interventionist practices and are often iteratively and sometimes exhaustively used. For instance, the prominent notion of ‘relational aesthetics’ (Bourriaud) has become a romanticized vision focusing on the (improving) harmony of communities in the arts and in activism related contexts. Equally, the architectural concept of ‘cultural/social engineering’, increasingly used in the context of digital urban innovations, suggests a future of urban spaces organized in a ‘more sustainable’ and resource-efficient way. Why and how do these concepts and others become successful in the context of urban interventionist practices? What sort of politics is being performed through these idealisms and visions of the future?

The workshop wishes to facilitate open and productive discussion on socially engaged building and design practices. This does not mean to judge the various interpretations of the ‘social’ that result from the interdisciplinary nature of these practices and the translations that occur between disciplines and sectors of practices by producing short-handed critiques. Rather, the intended workshop aims to create an arena for the exploration of the social accomplishments that are bound up with these propositions along with reflections on how the various affirmative versions of improvement produce moralized knowledges and practised formations of the social. We seek to experiment with the question of how these building and design practices accomplish and enact their own social theory, whether and how this field can be compared with others and how such practiced social theory can be brought back into the disciplines. A publication on the outcomes of the workshop is planned.

We invite abstracts of no more than 500 words (including an indicative reference list) by 12th January 2014. Invitations will be send out on 3rd February 2014.

Please send your abstract to
Hanna Katharina Göbel

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius

EHU's International Winter School on Critical Urbanism
Mapping Post-Socialist Urban Spaces in Vilnius
21.2.-8.3.2014, Deadline 10.1.2014

An International Winter School, organized by European Humanities Universities Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, invites students from Germany, Belarus and Lithuania for a two-week course on mapping social practice in relation to the built environment of the Lithuanian capital Vilnius and the smaller town of Druskininkai.

The school will be composed of a mix of lectures, seminars, excursions, a cultural programme, and supervised fieldwork, which will guide students on how to research the spatial dimensions of social relations in contemporary Vilnius. As a final assignment, students will create an exploratory mapping project of a particular dimension of the life of this post-socialist city.

The school will take place from February 21 to March 8 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The working language is English. Students will earn a certificate of 5 ECTS after handing in their final paper.

Full Information:
Contact: Dr. Benjamin Cope,
Deadline for Application: 10.1.2014

Monday, November 25, 2013


In the context of its research and residency program, ZK/U offers a ‘living & work’ space for artists, scholars, and practitioners, as well as an open platform for public events, lectures, discussions, screenings, performances and presentations. 


ZK/U founding concept:

Application Process:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

FYI: On Contemporary Polish Architecture- ANCB Berlin

Date: Thursday, 28 November, 7.00 pm

Venue: ANCB The Metropolitan Laboratory, Christinenstr. 18-19 (Pfefferberg), 10119 Berlin

From socialist cube houses, via modern farm houses to the new International Style - architectural dreams of the Poles collide with the limitations of the system. The landscape of present day Poland combines both the influence of past architectural paradigms and the new experiences of freedom and expressiveness. Which features define the Polish architecture of individual houses before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain? How can individual preferences and needs be combined with urban development regulations, the mistakes of which are becoming ever more visible? Polish and German commentators and designers will debate these issues and reflect on the current state of Polish architecture and its impact on the European discourse.


Welcome and Introduction
Katarzyna Wielga-Skolimowska, Director, Polish Institute Berlin

Joanna Kusiak, Sociologist and Urban Activist, PhD Candidate, Warsaw/Berlin
Grzegorz Piątek, Architecture Critic and Curator, Warsaw
Prof. Arno Brandlhuber, Architect and Urban Planner, Brandlhuber+, Berlin

Panel Discussion
moderated by Nadin Heinich, Director, plan A, office for architectural communication & urban culture, Munich/Berlin.

This public debate is taking place in connection with the current exhibition 'For Example. New Polish Architecture' at the Polish Institute Berlin.

The event will take place in English. Admission is free and registration is not required. We look forward to welcoming you.

Please visit and for more information. 

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Monday, November 18, 2013

CFP: Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean (2014-2015)

Deadline: Jan 10, 2014

From Riverbed to Seashore. Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period. (2014-2015)
A Harvard University Research Seminar organized as part of the Getty Foundation's Connecting Art Histories initiative
Led by Alina Payne, Harvard University

This research seminar zeroes in on rivers as the cultural infrastructure of the Mediterranean world in the early modern period, as carriers of people, things, and ideas tying geographies and cultures together. The king of such rivers was undoubtedly the Danube, running a parallel course to the Mediterranean and cutting across Europe from West to East.
Flowing into the Black Sea, it entered the system of communicating vessels of the Mediterranean—the old Roman mare nostrum itself, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, and, the last ripple that separates and unites three continents, the Sea of Azov.

But the Danube was not alone in swelling the Mediterranean world with the cultures along its shores. The Sava, the Adige, the Neretva, the  Pruth, the Dniester and Dnieper, and the Don (which flows into the Sea of Azov) etc. connect the "traditional" Mediterranean cultures—the Italian, the Ottoman, the Greek/Byzantine, the French and Spanish—with the world of the Balkans and beyond. Starting from this perspective, this seminar seeks to develop a framework for understanding how the Balkans and its northern neighbors mediated between East and West, as well as the region's contribution to the larger Mediterranean cultural melting pot in the early modern period.

The premises underlying this seminar are twofold: 1) that the contours of the Mediterranean Renaissance need to be re-drawn to include a larger territory that reflects this connectedness; and 2) that the eastern frontier of Europe extending from the Mediterranean deep into the interior played a pivotal role in negotiating the dialogue between western Europe, Central Asia and Ottoman Turkey. On the cusp between cultures and religions, Balkan principalities, kingdoms, and fiefdoms came to embody hybridity, to act as a form of buffer or cultural "switching" system that assimilated, translated, and linked the cultures of near and Central Asia with those of Western Europe. Taking a trans-regional approach, this project aims to reconstruct the fluid ties that linked territories in a period in which hegemonies were short-lived and unstable, and in which contact nebulas generated artistic nebulas that challenge traditional historical categories of regional identities, East/West and center/periphery.

The seminar will run from spring of 2014 to summer of 2015 and will be guided by a distinguished group of scholars. Participants are invited to propose their own projects related to these themes on which they will work during this period. We seek contributions on building types (eg. carvanserais/ hans), infrastructure (bridges, fortifications and roads), domestic architecture (villas/palaces), religious and domed structures, etc., building practices, materials and artisans, on Kleinarchitektur and portable architectural objects. Proposals are also invited from participants working on spolia, on "minor" arts—cloth/silks, goldsmithry, sculpture, leather, gems and books—as well as on collecting and treasuries, that is, on artworks and luxury items that allowed ornamental forms and formal ideas to circulate and created a taste for a hybrid aesthetic, as well as on historiography.

The countries under consideration here are: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

The seminar involves three stages: 1) a two-week "mobile" workshop traveling along the Dalmatian coast and using this region as case study of the issues, historiography and methodologies that this project seeks to foreground (May/June 2014); 2) a two and a half week stay at Harvard University (2 day workshop focusing on interim presentation of participants' findings and 2 week library access in January/February 2015); and 3) a final conference (presentation of developed individual projects) and short trip to key sites on the Black Sea. On-going participation in the seminar will be based on the quality of scholarly contribution and on the level of engagement with the group.

Applicants should be post-doctoral scholars working in the Eastern European countries on which the project focuses (maximum 10 years from a doctoral degree; doctoral degree must be in hand at time of application). Travel expenses are covered. The seminar language is English: participants will need to demonstrate a strong command of the language to enable wide-ranging discussion with the other members of the seminar. Facility with languages of the region is an asset. Applications must include: CV, personal statement, description of proposed project (500 words + one page bibliography), one published writing sample and three letters of reference are due no later than January 10, 2014.

Finalists will be interviewed; participants will be notified by early February.

Please send applications to the attention of Elizabeth Kassler-Taub, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Looking at Berlin, London and upcoming conference in Berlin

29.11.2013 "Towards a sustainable and just city region? Looking at Berlin, London and Paris"

Berlin is currently in the process of developing a new spatial development strategy - the Stadtentwicklungskonzept 2030 (StEK 2030). Other plans and policies to shape the growing metropolitan region are also well under way, such as the new housing strategy and a new strategy of how to deal with municipal real estate. Many of these policies have been influenced by civil society stakeholders who demand a more sustainable development of the city, both in terms of climate change and socially. Extensive public participation processes have been launched to come up with development strategies, which will be perceived as 'just' while at the same time supporting Berlin's economic growth. The conference will discuss the proposed strategies and participatory approaches and whether they are as 'just' and 'sustainable' as promised. It will look at similar proposals in London and Paris and explore what these new approaches mean regarding current debates on governance, localism or sustainable urban development.

Monday, November 11, 2013

CFP: 7th International Deleuze Studies Conference

Models, Machines and Memories
Istanbul, July, 14-16th 2014

“Given a certain effect, what machine is capable of producing it? And given a certain machine, what can it be used for? (Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, 1977 [1972]:3)
Deleuze and Guattari crafted an immense ‘tool-box’ that we can deploy to interrogate existing knowledge, but also to create new knowledge. Envisioning the body as a little machine that could be ‘plug into’ other machines, to produce and re-produce itself again through each assemblages, Deleuze and Guattari invented a vast array of new machines with which to think the contemporary world: social-machines, desiring-machines, bachelor-machines, abstract machines, war-machines in the realm of production and reproduction, and so on, all leading to “a trans-spatial and trans-temporal plane of consistency”.
Deleuze and Guattari also introduced novel models of rhizomatic connections between machines, providing the possibility to transverse all diverse levels, by moving trans-linearly through the space and associating freely. Rather than “passive recordings”, memories emerge in Deleuze and Guattari’s work as machines. As Guattari put it, ”All memories are machines. All machines are memories.”
Models, Machines and Memories: 7th International Deleuze Studies Conference in Istanbul 2014 encourages participants to generate their own unique models, machines and memories of discussions in the fields of:
•Space, Architecture and Urban Planning
•Aesthetics and Artistic Practices,
•Film Studies,
•Digital Realm and New Media,
•Literature and Literary Criticism,
•Philosophy, Ontology and Metaphysics,
•Sociology and Politics,
•Gender Studies,
•Law Studies,
•Science and Technology,
Call for Papers and Panels: Deadline January, 20th 2014.
Length of presentations are to be limited to a maximum of 20 minutes. We do also welcome panel proposals. For early notification, submit your abstract or panel proposal (including abstracts) via Propose a Paper/Panel link.
Conference Chair and Camp/ Summer School Coordinator:
Dr. Emine Görgül, Istanbul Technical University
For more information please contact

CFP: METROPOLITICS The Seventh Biennial Conference of the Urban History Association

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 9-12, 2014

The Urban History Association Program Committee seeks submissions for sessions on all aspects of urban, suburban, and metropolitan history. We welcome proposals for panels, roundtable discussions, and individual papers, and are receptive to alternative session formats that foster audience participation in the proceedings.

The Program Committee is pleased to announce that the University of Pennsylvania will serve as the local host for this year’s conference, which will be held on October 9-12, 2014.

We particularly encourage papers that explore the theme of Metropolitics, although submissions are not restricted to the conference theme. The year 2014 marks the beginning of a series of fiftieth anniversaries of major political events impacting cities, including the Civil Rights Act, the War on Poverty, the founding of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Voting Rights Act, the Hart-Celler Immigration Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The Program Committee therefore invites papers that reflect broadly on the relationship between the state and local actors. We also seek contributions that make global comparisons and explore metropolitan politics in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa. Sessions on ancient and pre-modern as well as modern periods are welcome. Graduate student submissions are encouraged.

We prefer complete panels but individual papers will be considered. Please designate a single person to serve as a contact for all complete panels. For traditional panels, include a brief explanation of the overall theme, a one-page abstract of each paper, and a one- or two-page c.v. for each participant. Roundtable proposals should also designate a contact person and submit a one-page theme synopsis and a one or two page c.v. for each presenter. Proposals involving alternative formats should include a brief description of how the session will be structured. All those submitting individual papers should include a one-page abstract and a one or two page c.v. E-mail submissions by March 1, 2014 to Andrew K. Sandoval Strausz at and Victoria Wolcott at Submissions should be included in attachments as Word or PDF documents.

As part of the conference the UHA will organize workshops for graduate students writing dissertations in urban and suburban history. Students who have written a prospectus and who wish to participate in a workshop should apply with a two to four page letter of interest by March 1, 2014 to

Saturday, November 9, 2013

CFP: Paradise Found, or Paradise Lost? Nostalgia, Culture and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe

This conference aims to explore the many different forms nostalgia has taken in Central and Eastern Europe since in the last twenty years. Among the questions to be addressed are: What are the distinctive forms of nostalgia in the region? Where does this nostalgia come from? What purpose(s) does it serve? What, if any, is its political agenda? Is nostalgia primarily a yearning for or a rejection of something? Whose nostalgia is it anyway? What is the relationship between nostalgia and kitsch? And how seriously does this nostalgia take itself? Papers are invited from scholars working in a broad range of disciplines, including Slavonic and East European Studies, politics, economics, anthropology, law, business studies, linguistics, history and comparative literature.

The Call for Papers can be downloaded at:

Proposals, in the form of a 250-word abstract and a short cv, should be sent BY 31 JANUARY 2014 AT THE LATEST, to BOTH organisers, at: and Abstracts may be in any of the three official language of the conference, English, French or Russian.

Graham Roberts
Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
200 ave. de la République
92001 Nanterre cedex

Visit the website at http://