Conference Agenda

RS08_04: Public space and common-places
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Eeva Kristiina Luhtakallio, University of Tampere
Location: GM.331
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Urban Walking Tours As Operators Of Communality And Enchanted Experiences

Rachel Brahy

University of Liege, Belgium

Nowadays Festivals and events punctuate urban life more and more often. What about these events in a context of globalization and increased competition between cities? Is it only to increase attractiveness? Could economic ambitions of positioning on a tourist market be oriented around inhabitants and visitors concern? Considering the new requirements of citizen participation, how are these organizations thought and lived?

Our proposal aspires to document this issue from three specific urban cases: Liège (Belgium), Nantes (France) and Lausanne (Switzerland). The devices studied in these three cities have the particular feature of being "pedestrian paths" on the one hand, and on the other hand, of relying on artistic/plant facilities. Thus, we question how to connect and to belong to the world from the lived experiences in these urban spaces.

In a pragmatic, cultural, and political sociology perspective, we ask ourselves: how do the actors exercise their critical abilities on these routes? How are they helped (or prevented) by designers and operators, sometimes called "Enchantment Engineers" (Winkin)? How do they also share their experience (outside or within a community)? Our hypothesis is that the "path" instrument allows different ways of linking and connecting. Precisely, these different ways can be described. And they are related to both "liberal grammar" of the community and "grammar by common affinities" (Thevenot). Our points of support for this exploration are 1) the frame, free and public, of the "route" and 2) the potential for enchantment, attachment and intimate content in the works (plant or artistic). Thus, should we, broadly speaking, manage to put into perspective and question the enactment of speech about the city.

Politics of Space : Notes for a Pragmatic of the Common

Luca Pattaroni

EPFL, Switzerland

Based on an ethnography of political squats in Geneva, this paper explores the spatial dimension of commonalities. It argues that in the political process of ordering a common life, space plays a central role as it constitutes the articulating element between situated experience and the institution of the common. This political dimension of space will be analysed through the comparison between three different squatting experiences. Each of them illustrates a distinct composition of commonalities that can be, to a certain extent, related to Laurent Thévenot regime of commonalities in the plural and, more broadly, to three of the main European political traditions (anarchism, socialism and liberalism). We will in particular show how each of those political regimes of the common are linked to specific forms of every day engagement of the squatters in collective life along contrasted material settings of collective spaces. This exploration will allow us to reflect on the spatial dynamics of a politics of engagement and their role in the emancipatory and oppressive effects each regime of the common entails. In the end, more than distinct political and spatial model, the three regimes appear as dynamic counterbalances of each other, accounting for the contradictory dynamics pervading the squatting experience – where emotions, attachments, convictions, intimacy are closely intertwined – and the political attempts to stabilize a lasting common. This dynamic exploration of the building of commonalities will allow us to reflect in the end to the broader epistemological and theoretical stakes of a pragmatic of space and the common.

Festivalization of Minority Claims for Public Belonging: Civically Engaged Festivals in Central European Cities

Ivana Raposova

Masaryk University, Slovenia

Recent years have seen a rapid increase in initiatives that blend artistic practices with civic action and use cultural events to foster intercultural dialogue and promote ethnic and social diversity. Such events create space for collective coordination of a great variety of social actors and open new possibilities for tackling social exclusion of minority groups. I explore three civically engaged cultural festivals that take place in the Central European cities of Vienna, Bratislava, and Brno and, drawing on the pragmatic sociology and civic action approach, I identify several scene styles of collective coordination commonly generated by these festivals. I discuss different conceptions of the civic worth each of these scene styles promotes and focus on wider implications of the respective styles for the capacity of festivals to succeed in promoting the societal change they envision and to further inspire civic engagement among the public.

Common-place as a Public Site for Plurality

Maija Elina Jokela

University of Tampere, Finland

This paper makes an effort to bridge Laurent Thévenot’s theory of sociology of engagements with the theories of affect, understood as visceral “engagement” in the world. This bridging is done through an ethnographic case study of an asylum seekers’ and their Finnish supporters’ protest camp, “Right to Live”.

Recent studies on European solidarity movements acting with or on behalf of asylum seekers after the 2015 “long summer of migration” has highlighted the importance and mobilizing effects of things belonging to the regime of familiar attachments, namely emotions/affects and familiarity with asylum seekers from local settings, as friends and neighbors. However, a common-place can be seen not only as a mobilizing factor but as political in its own right. Friendships between citizens and non-citizens as well as the affectual and embodied practices of solidarity can be seen as crucial parts of solidarity protests’ political message and action.

As my case study demonstrates, affectual ties and practices in the protest camp created a common-place (“village”, “living room”, “family”) in a concrete as well as abstract sense among citizens and non-citizens while maintaining a level of justification, internally and externally, and managing these levels by switching scene styles. I claim that the regime of familiar attachments was not only a medium for creating internal cohesion but it also made public close attachments, embodied and visible in the urban space as well as in traditional and social media. Common-place was thus a public site for plurality.