Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dreamed/planned cities and experienced cities

Venue & Date: University Jean Monnet, St Etienne, France, 8-10 July 2014

Nowadays, there is a growing interest among anthropologists to do urban research that looks at both the government of the city and the dwellers' representations of the city (Lefebvre). Many ethnographies have thus focused, on the one hand, on urban policies and, on the other hand, on social practices. The Urban Anthropology Series - published by Ashgate - and the works published in the Journal Urbanities are good examples of this growing trend among anthropologists, which is consistent with the major transformation of cities around the world: gentrification, competition between cities, urban sprawl, mobility, heritagization, etc.. Urbanity is paradoxically claimed as one of the main attributes of Modernity at a time when cities are diluting and disseminating.

The aim of this conference is to understand both the dreamed/planned cities  and the experienced cities. However, we do not want to oppose those who  think the city to those who inhabit and practice it. Everyone is entitled to have personal thoughts about the place where one lives.

General Convenors are:

Michel Rautenberg, Centre Max Weber, Université Jean Monnet, St Etienne,France
Corine Védrine, Centre Max Weber, Ecole nationale supérieure d'architecture de Lyon, France

I am particularly interested in contributions for the session that I will convene:


Planning for Renewal and Resettlement: Contested Visions
Convenor: Pr Dolores Koenig, American University, Washington, DC,

Politicians and urban planners often put forward visions of urban futures that involve new infrastructure, urban renewal, or large sporting events, which require the relocation of existing residents. Relocated residents rarely embrace these visions, asserting alternatives that value their ways of living; they offer their own visions, which imagine the poor as major contributors to the city. In 2003 when Vision Mumbai proposed steps to be taken to transform Mumbai into a "world-class city" by 2013, urban activists rejected the report, saying that it presented a vision of a city without poor people. They stressed instead that the poor were the basis of city life: building its buildings, keeping it clean, and serving its people.

This workshop seeks contributions that look at the particular clashes that occur when governments and private organizations propose development and change that involve the destruction of existing neighborhoods and the relocation of their residents. To what extent do politicians and urban planners justify these plans by visions of urban growth or quality of urban life? How do the potentially relocated respond?
Under what conditions do they create alternative visions? When do they negotiate or collaborate with planners? What sorts of activism do they undertake?

If you are interested in participating, please send your paper proposal (around 200 words) directly to me ( before April 30 2014.

There are other exciting workshops planned as well. All of them are looking for papers.

For further information, please google "annual conference CUA IUAES" and choose the PDF for Annual Conference of the Commission on Urban...

Dolores Koenig
American University

Thursday, March 13, 2014

CFP:Transformations of Urban Areas in East-Central and Western Europe LE HAVRE, October 29 – 31, 2014

Since the late XX century the countries of East-Central Europe survive a period of deep changes. Like in other European countries, towns are there at the heart of multi-scale transformations embracing their whole territory, affecting all aspects of social life. What spatial processes are observed in urban areas of East Central Europe and Russia as compared with West Europe?

The inter-disciplinary conference "Transformations of Urban Areas in East-Central and Western Europe” will be focused on spatial trends at all territorial scales - in cities, towns, agglomerations, as well as in suburban areas quickly spreading to more and more peripheral territories. The conference will be also devoted to the influence of cities on the organization of space and on the continuous restructuring of urban regions and their hierarchy.

Urban and periurban level

It is planned to consider inner processes in urban areas, especially morphological, functional and social changes, in particular elaboration and application of urban master plans, de-industrialisation, the use and the conversion of brawn fields, the renewal of cities’ centres, localization of retail trade and other tertiary activities, congestion, transportation systems, social polarization, gentrification of central areas and slums in peripheries. They will also analyze urban sprawl, patterns of suburbanization and transformation of second homes (dachas) around East European cities into permanent settlements.

Urban spatial processes may be spontaneous or result from the activity of central and local authorities or of private developers promoting rehabilitation of old neighbourhoods or of new housing. The conference will analyze the impact of the recently emerged housing market on the morphology and the functions of urban and suburban areas, the development of gated communities and the expansion of individual housing in peripheral parts of urban areas in East-Central Europe. A special attention will be paid to the role of accessibility and transport in the production of space in different historical and social conditions. 

Comparative studies are most welcome. It seems, indeed, that a similar urban morphology cannot be explained by the same reasons. Likewise, the same factors can create different morphological forms. 

Urban networks level

The conference will discuss the evolution of urban networks – whether they become more centralized or polycentric, as well as the advantages of metropolization – the localisation of large cities in the centre of communications’ networks and at the foci of different material and non-material flows, the growing financial centralization and the territorial concentration of human capital, the accelerated development of high level tertiary activities and creative potential. Do these processes prevent the development of polycentric structures which help to avoid social costs imposed by the hypertrophy of global cities (the constant growth of real estate’s prices, excessive polarisation and social pathologies, pollution and degradation of environment)?

The situation in East-Central and West Europe, in particular “horizontal” links between regional centres avoiding the capital and between small and medium towns around central cities of urban agglomerations will be compared. Particularly interesting is the question about cross-border interactions between small and medium towns in the heart of Europe. They also will shed light on the impact of metropolization on the functions of small and medium towns and other places. 

Urban governance

Real limits of a city rarely match administrative boundaries. The authorities of many countries launched the reforms of the administrative structure and governance of urban areas. In Russia and Ukraine there is yet a lack of legislation regulating the cooperation between central cities and other municipalities making part of urban agglomerations. Local authorities often try to create a single "vertical of power" incorporating all metropolitan region into a single territorial administration.

At the same time, large public or private firms have now in post-Soviet and post-socialist countries much more power in urban and regional development than municipal and even regional authorities. Private interests are sometimes dominating public interests. Regional metropolises are more depending on private investments and outside projects. However, urban authorities express an increasing interest in transforming their cities in major economic, financial, cultural centres of large territories including neighbouring regions and towns. 

Before April 30, 2014, submitting of contributions to the following address:

according to the following guidelines:
- Maximum one page,
- Title, author(s) Function(s), affiliation(s),
- Keywords,
- Summary.

Friday, March 7, 2014



Deadline for submissions: 4 April 2014, 5pm
Production residency: 5 May – 15 June 2014
Public presentation: 19 – 22 June 2014

Eastern Bloc’ media lab is a space for experimenting, learning, theorizing and creating – a place to further develop systems-based, networked, generative and hybrid practices through an artist-led discourse. The lab is a site of convergence for artists (both emerging and established), professionals, students, technicians, theorists and curators – encouraged to work side by side, supporting one another conceptually as well as technically.

Eastern Bloc’s residency program, with its three residencies per year (Fall, Winter, Spring), is a chance for artists and audiences to critically engage in the artistic process, with a focus on DIY and open source culture as well as and the political discourse surrounding contemporary digital culture, and a special consideration for pedagogy and technological democratization.

For the upcoming Spring residency, artists (or artist collectives) are asked to submit a project in one or more of the following disciplines: Net art, interactive installation/performance, bio art, audio/video installation, audio/video performance, sound performance, public intervention.

Please include in the project description how the proposed project responds to the following criteria (the artistic merit of your application will be judged based on these criteria):

Puts forward a process of exploration/risk-taking/experimentation within a public context

Presents critically engaged content

Exploits the material framework and conceptual parameters of the mediums and technologies used

Use of multiple platforms/systems/networks and/or use of open source technologies

Explores current trends in digital culture

Investigates the digital language and its norms and structures

Looks to build upon or challenge the normative structures of New Media art production and exhibition

The selected artist or artist collective will benefit from a 6 week production residency in the Eastern Bloc lab (5 May – 15 June 2014), followed by 4 days to present the completed work or work-in-progress in one of the centre’s gallery spaces (19 - 22 June 2014). The artist or collective will benefit from the following services:
Open access to the research & production lab
Guided technical assistance during the 6 week production period (provided by the Lab Coordinator and/or a lab volunteer)
Access to the lab’s equipment and tools (click here for detailed list of lab equipment and tools)
Access to small storage space for materials and personal equipment
A maximum of 10 hours of in-gallery technical assistance for the installation and dismantle of the project before and after the presentation period
Photo and video documentation of the residency process (including production, exhibition, workshop and artist talk)

The selected artist or collective is required to give at least one workshop, on a related subject, in the lab (open to Eastern Bloc’s members and the general community, maximum of 15 participants); as well as give an artist talk (open to the general public) about the project created while in residency at Eastern Bloc. The selected artist or collective will receive a total fee of $1150 for the residency (including production, presentation and workshop).

Artists must submit the following:
Artistic statement (max 250 words)
Detailed description of the project including technical requirements (max 500 words)
Bio and up-to-date CV of all collaborators
Support material of current or past works (max. 10 images and/or 3 audio/video excerpts)

All completed submissions must be sent by email to no later than 5pm on April 4th, 2014.