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Call for Papers: ‘BECOMING LOCAL’: Public space as an imaginary of alternative urban futures

Call for Papers: ‘BECOMING LOCAL’: Public space as an imaginary of alternative urban futures image
'BECOMING LOCAL': Public space as an imaginary of alternative urban futures

'Becoming local’ is the working theme of AESOP thematic group of Public Spaces and Urban Cultures for the group’s future meetings in the years 2013 to 2015. The theme ‘becoming local’ comprises a series of hypotheses: it intends to enrich the concept of ‘meaningful place’ by questioning novel and comprehensive ways of researching urban space as the basis of any future practice in contrast to urbanisation processes of globalisation and related design trends that ignore the depth of place; it intends to re-emphasize the role of public space in order to enhance the links between abstract theory and empirical knowledge using it as the source of observation, analysis, and mapping; particularly it focuses on the critical studies that expose the relational characteristics of space, its diverse visible and invisible historical, sentimental, cultural, social and ecological layers; it also questions the roles of states, market and civil actors and processes in the making of urban spaces; and finally it takes a sceptical distance in thinking the role of designers with concerns of ethics, since it accepts that place becomes through complex social and sentimental processes. However, ‘becoming local’ anticipates a different mission for design as the action of spatial research and communication with the society in order to make existing and potential unseen visible to public. 
The impact of the tension between the global and local on the urban space has immensely been visible all over the world for the last decades. During the Occupy movements in 2011, criticisms of the impact of current global system on the urban landscapes were contested through the protests in the cities. Aligned with other geographic contexts, urban movements have been fledgling in Istanbul and other cities of Turkey resisting against destruction and privatisation of public spaces, and examination of hegemonic power. The resistance movement in Gezi Park started on 30th of May against the demolishment of the park in order to build a shopping mall transformed into the most nationwide protest in the history of Turkey gaining deeper meanings for diverse layers of the society. All over the country, millions of people (mostly youngsters) revolted against shrinkage of the public spaces, massive ecological destructions, oppression and police violence, interventions into life-styles, and freedom of speech along with many other calls for a true democracy, liberation, equality, peace and justice, towards an open society. In the mean time, the professionals entered into self-questioning period. Transformation of public spaces through top-down reductionist and exclusionary practices urged professionals to question how to create spaces for social and ecological justice and liberation, democracy, as well as alternative ways of living, new subjectivities, cultural diversity and sustainability. But, do they really have a role in the processes? Is it possible? And what is the ethic and aesthetic way of involvement?
In such an intellectual atmosphere, deriving from Istanbul’s specificities emerging from the chronic tensions between the global and the local, the first meeting of ‘Becoming Local’ series (2013-2015) aims to explore the current critical issues in research and design praxis related to public spaces and urban cultures. It attempts to generate a dialogue between researchers and designers with the guidance of the following questions:

-        What are the comprehensive, novel, strategic and critical ways of researching and representing the complexity of relational social, cultural and ecological phenomenality of place? How can critical insurgent events, movements and everyday patterns be mapped and interpreted? What are the tactics of communication of such information with public? What can be learned from those phenomena for urban design? Or is there anything to learn?

-        Do design professionals really a have role in the processes of urbanism towards alternative futures? Is it possible? If possible, what is the ethic and aesthetic way of involvement? What is ‘critical’ in design?

-        What are the imaginaries of public space for alternative/counter-hegemonic urban futures towards new subjectivities?

-        What are the examples of insurgent public spaces and counter-hegemonic design practices? How do these practices challenge the current mechanisms? What are their tactics and instruments for continuous appropriation of spaces over the long term?

-        How cities can learn from each other for a global resistance for creating such public spaces of cultural, social and ecological liberation?

-        What could be the possible inheritance of the current critical discourses for the design realm? And how can they be evolved? 

ABSTRACT SUBMISSION
Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short biography of 100 words to Burcu Yiğit Turan (burcu.turan@ozyegin.edu.tr) by 21th October 2013.We will finalise the sessions and inform all respondents of the outcome by 28 October 2013

MORE INFORMATION

For more information about the event see: www.becominglocalistanbul.org

About Özyeğin University see: http://www.ozyegin.edu.tr/

About Aesop see: http://www.aesop-planning.eu/

About Aesop Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures see: http://www.aesop-planning.eu/blogs/en_GB/urban-cultures-and-public-spaces