The Hague, Netherlands, April 3-6, 2014
Workshop title: Street Justice: Activist Urban Cultures of the 21st Century
In 1999, the “Battle in Seattle” secured a world audience for the so-called “anti-globalization” movement, as protestors at the meeting of World Trade Organization confronted city authorities. In the decade and a half since then, assemblies of immigrants, students, consumers, the poor and homeless, war-resisters, bicyclists and pedestrians, urban gardeners, organized labor, women, indigenous peoples, greens, and others have been “taking it to the streets” in cities in the US and across the world in order to raise awareness and to articulate, champion, and secure economic, social, and environmental justice. From Detroit to San Francisco, from New York to Newtown, Connecticut, the public parks and squares, the desolate spaces, the city streets, thoroughfares and highways, shopping malls, ports, churches, schools and campuses, homes and offices and derelict buildings, hotels and convention centers, city halls, and police stations have been transformed as activist groups have occupied them and aimed to contest prevailing standards of power, to articulate causes, to generate new living and social practices.
All the hetero-spaces mentioned above point to the diverse character and power potential of urban spaces. In his lecture on heterotopia in 1967, Michel Foucault places emphasis on alterity as a reaction to normality and homogeneity; Mary McLeod in 1996 in her essay “Everyday and ‘other’ spaces” critically approaches “other” spaces as “other designs” and “other uses”; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus in 1980 argue that “multiplicity means to draw escape routes or ‘lines of flight’ away from closed and fixed structures or codes that restrict and constrain the movement and connectivity of thought and action”; Kenny Cupers and Markus Miessen in their Spaces of Uncertainty published in 2002 take the argumentation a step further by approaching the urban public sphere as a “model of confrontation and instability, as it is characterized by encounters and confrontations between people.” It is exactly in this kind of encounters that group dynamics and opinions can be formed and communicated, transforming urban spaces into sites of participatory action, struggle and justice, notions that constitute the thematic poles around which 2014 EAAS conference revolves.
With this workshop we will seek to examine the emergent spatial and representational practices of such activist phenomena as Occupy Wall Street, flash mobs, zombie and slut walks, LBGT “pride” celebrations, austerity protests, encampments, marches, vigils, and more by focusing on literary and cultural texts, social media initiatives, documentaries, and media artist projects. Special attention will be paid to the spatial and urban dimension of justice as well as to the involvement of new forms of media representation, literary practice, communication and dissemination of urban thought and action. We will be particularly interested in exploring how such new participatory urban practices shape emerging habitats of justice or re-constitute traditional forums and public spheres, and to what extent local and national movements across the U.S. resonate internationally.
Dr. Arthur Redding (Professor, York University, Canada)
Dr. Tatiani Rapatzikou (Assistant Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
Deadline for submissions: October 1st, 2013.
Word length and requirements: One page or 500 words plus one paragraph bio.