All quiet on the wrong side of the tracks?
Inquiries into the Interrelation of the Other and the City today
Workshop, Berlin 2-3 June 2009
Cities are considered key sites for the investigation of processes of inclusion and exclusion of the respective society and their social, spatial, symbolic, economic or political manifestations. Today’s debates around globalization, transnationalism and increasing diversity of Western cities suggest changed conditions for the construction of those boundaries within society and in urban space.
Yet when examining processes of negotiation of belonging, othering, and the construction of a culturally and ethnically ‘Other’, the city is oftentimes reduced to a mere backdrop for this inquiry. It serves as popular research site and provides descriptive ornament, but its impact on the processes in question often remains unclear.
This workshop aims at exploring the interrelation between representations of the city and of those labeled as culturally and ethnically different today by discussing previous and contemporary concepts from various fields of social research dealing with this very interrelation. The wide spectrum of urban thought and theory includes classical conceptualizations of the city as organism as developed by the early Chicago School and more recent ones such as the Integration Machine (Häußermann).
Inextricably linked to the examination of the city and a so-called ‘Other’ is the relation between representations and urban experiences. Hence, following de Certeau’s conceptualization of the city as both discursively mapped and corporally practiced, a particular focus will be placed on how the various concepts incorporate the relation between discursive and imagined Otherness and its material expression.
Considering conceptualizations of the mutual impact between ‘the Other’ and the city of the 20th century until present time, the workshop aims at tracing transformations over time, critically assessing the new quality of today’s situation and to inform current research projects of the workshop participants.
The interdisciplinary comparison will be a central element, with special focus on concepts from sociology, urban anthropology, urban studies, literary and cultural studies.
Questions to be raised in the workshop include:
How do images of the urban - such as the ghetto, ethnic enclave or parallel society but also, in a metaphorical sense, as a stage - relate to discourses of ‘the Other’?
What kind of urban self-representations are expressed by those marginalized within the city, e.g. in media and literary products?
How does the city, on various levels, impact negotiations of belonging, resistance or membership of those construed to be different?
Does the contemporary city have an “integrative potential” and how could this be conceptualized?
The workshop aims at facilitating intense dialogue and exchange among doctoral students and junior researchers dealing with the interrelation of constructions of the Other and the City in their work. This will be reflected in the amount of time in the program allocated for discussion in a constructive, supportive setting.
We expect from the invited participants to prepare a discussion/working paper outlining their current research. This working paper can contain work in progress but should be related to the central themes of the workshop.
The working paper will be circulated to all participants well in advance. Participants are expected to read the working papers in order to participate in the discussion. Additionally, each participant will have the opportunity to introduce central questions in five-minute inputs at the day of the seminar. The workshop will be based on discussion following participant presentations and on the basis of the submitted working papers. Main objective of the workshop is to provide a constructive setting for intense discussion on central issues in this field of research and to provide helpful comments for further development of the current projects / working papers of participants.
There will be a maximum of 20 participants. Workshop language is English.
We invite working papers presenting theoretical and/or empirical contributions from a variety of
methodological perspectives, with special focus on urban studies, popular culture, literature, sociology and urban ethnography addressing the role of the city in their research.
Submitted working papers should:
-be directly related to one of the main questions of the workshop
- present current research
- identify relevant dimensions of the city for the research project
Papers should not exceed length of 5,000 words and include an abstract (no more than 500 words).
Please submit your abstract and short CV with contact details to the following address:
no later than 1st of May 2009.
Applicants will be notified before 6 May 2009.
(deadline for handing in of complete working paper by participants: 25 May 2009)
All sessions will be held at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University Berlin,
Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 3rd floor, 10587 Berlin, Germany.
Participation in the workshop is free of charge for all selected participants. Unfortunately, the Center for Metropolitan Studies cannot offer travel grants. Travel and accommodation expenses are responsibility of individual participants. However, we can support you with recommendations and information regarding your stay in Berlin.
For further questions, please contact us at:
Riza Baris Ülker
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