CfP | CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

The workshop brings together senior and junior scholars from urban anthropology, human geography and design to collaborate on researching how urban transformation can be studied ethnographically from the perspective of urban everyday practice along the topics of urban commons and resilience. The KOSMOS Workshop is funded by the Excellence Initiative by Humboldt-University of Berlin and hosted at Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies.

BEYOND URBAN TRANSFORMATION
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Everyday Life

 Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies
Humboldt-University of Berlin/ Germany
September 5-8, 2018

SUMMARY | The workshop “Beyond Urban Transformation. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Everyday Life” organized by scholars from Humboldt University, Harvard University and the University of Toronto brings together senior and junior scholars from urban anthropology, geography and design to collaborate on researching how urban transformation can be studied ethnographically from the perspective of everyday practice. As ethnographers, geographers, artists and urban planners, our research models must navigate multiple scales of analysis in cities while committing to the fine-grained analysis of everyday life experiences of urban transformations, which reflect the larger scale processes of urban change. Under the broad theme of urban transformation, our workshop will focus on the two sub-themes of urban resilience and urban commons. The topics will be explored during the workshop through a detailed process of sharing about current research praxis and developing collaborative, interdisciplinary models for research engagement. We will focus on methodological approaches that generate “thick data” (as opposed to big data) about the practice of the urban everyday life. The workshop will focus explicitly on the connection between core theoretical concepts in urban studies, including resilience, urban commons, and practice, and their concomitant interdisciplinary methodological approaches. The workshop participants will develop new approaches to bridge theoretical concepts with interdisciplinary research methods.

Urban Ethnography Lab, Berlin, Germany
KOSMOS – Excellence Initiative, Berlin, Germany
Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin, Germany
Humboldt-University of Berlin, Geography Department, Berlin, Germany
University of Toronto, Anthropology Department, Ethnography Lab, Toronto, Canada
Harvard University, Boston, USA

WORKSHOP AIMS | The UEL will hold a three-day workshop entitled “Beyond Urban Transformation: Interdisciplinary perspectives on urban everyday life” at Humboldt University’s Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin. The workshop will be the first step in publishing a special edition of a scientific journal (eg. City and Society) the following year. The workshop will include lectures from invited speakers, urban planners, artists, designers and architects as well as topical tours and excursions.

As part of our skill-building approach, we integrate into our workshops and provide material and tools for urban ethnographic research. The invited Keynote speakers will provide a theoretical grounding to our methodological questions, while collaboration with local artists and ethnographic writers will creatively enhance our approaches to urban ethnographic methods. Other activities will include a film screening and discussions with local activists as well as “Go-Alongs” and “Ethnographic Mapping” sessions in the field in Berlin. Each activity will be geared toward enhancing our interdisciplinary understanding of urban transformation. Throughout the workshop, Berlin’s changing social and political dynamics will serve as a platform for comparing phenomena and dynamics observed in each of our research sites.

HOW TO APPLY? We specifically address Ph.D. students and early career scholars who are interested in the intersection of Urban Anthropology, Human Geography and Urban Design, but also welcome applicants from other disciplines at different stages with a strong background in the topics of this workshop.

Please send your application including:
(1) your short bio / CV ( with information on where you currently study/work);
(2) a 350-word description of your previous experience (ethnographic or otherwise) relevant to the workshop, a brief statement of your interest in the workshop, how other participants can benefit from your contribution and what you hope to learn from your participation and how it contributes to your current research/work.

Please send these two documents as one PDF to the following email address urbanethnographylab@gmail.com until May 15, 2018. The deadline for submissions is 11:59 pm / 23:59 (Central European Summer Time, GMT+2, Berlin).

We will get back to you with decisions until early June. The language of the workshop is English. If you have any further questions feel free to contact: urbanethnographylab@gmail.com.

WHAT ARE THE COSTS? | There are no costs for participation for admitted applicants.

Scholarships and travel funding: Scholarships for attending KOSMOS Workshop at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin can be awarded by external funding organisations, i.e. DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). Please visit the homepage of the DAAD to find information on various kinds of DAAD funding for foreign students, especially for your home country, as well as funding offered by other selected organisations via the DAAD Scholarship Database. In addition to that it can be helpful to contact the Branch offices from DAAD in your home country.  The following institutions may also give you information about scholarship opportunities:

  • Your home university (department)
  • The government of your country
  • Organisations cooperating with Germany
  • Scholarship databases of your country’s Ministry of Education


BACKGROUND |
Urban space is one of the central research fields of urban anthropology, which understands cities as social sites where cultural and political developments are initiated and condensed. Nevertheless, urban anthropology depends on the views of other disciplines like historical and social sciences, architecture, geography, city planning, urban design and arts. All these disciplines are concerned with processes of urban transformation – from different perspectives, mindsets, and theoretical frameworks. To work with people from different disciplines is imperative in order to locate gaps in our own urban research perspectives and to develop new modes of transdisciplinary discourse.

Urban transformation focuses primarily on the process of gentrification, urban renewal, neo-liberalization of the city, and housing (Smith 1996, Brenner 2002, Larsen 2016). Understanding these processes requires on-the-ground research on the everyday struggles and resilience of urban actors who are constantly adapting to emergent twenty-first century challenges, such as the negotiation of rights to the city, the role and changing patterns of public space, and new spatial practices in the rise of digitalization (Lefebvre 1968, Harvey 2012, Habermas 1989, Miller et al. 2016, and Lim 2002). Urban societies are ordered hierarchically through a set of implicit rules and conventions, which determine the distribution of roles in a community and the forms of exclusion that operate within it. As ethnographers, geographers, artists and urban planners, our research models must navigate multiple scales of analysis in cities while committing to the fine-grained analysis of everyday life experiences of urban transformations, which reflect the larger scale processes of urban change. Under the broad theme of urban transformation, our workshop will focus on the two sub-themes of urban resilience and urban commons.

(1) Urban resilience, particularly among grassroots movements, occurs with everyday struggles, not only for the right to the city (Lefebvre 1968) but for the right to have rights in the first place (Arendt 1955). In those struggles the ‘part who have no part’ (Rancière 2002), those who, in a particular urban social arrangement, are thought to have less than equal claims than others, speak up and become visible. Processes of recognition and legitimization that challenge the status quo open opportunities for a broad, spontaneous, contingent reconfiguration of the existing urban order.

(2) Urban commons as a term typically denotes resources used, shared and managed by communities. The concept emphasizes self-determination, self-organization of the social and physical environment. Both the rise in commonly owned spaces and services in democratically governed areas, as well as the notion of urban commons as a product of resilience, raise hopes for the reclamation of cities for the larger public. The urban commons need to be an inclusive arena for a productive contest of various actors and their practices (Mouffe 2013). It is therefore that disciplines like anthropology should obtain the “militant middle ground” and concern themselves with “practice rather than with grand theory” (Herzfeld 2001).

The topics will be explored during the workshop through a detailed process of sharing current research practice and developing collaborative, interdisciplinary models for research engagement. We intend to focus on methodological approaches that generate “thick data” (as opposed to big data) on the practice of urban everyday life.

WORKSHOP QUESTIONS

Urban Space and Transformation | How do theoretical models of urban transformation from various disciplines influence our disciplinary and interdisciplinary research methodologies and vice versa? How can we develop interdisciplinary approaches to bridge theoretical concepts with research methods in order to address more comprehensively the complexity of research issues today? What concepts of “urban transformation” help us to look beyond and find relevance in practice instead of grand theory by engaging with urban everyday life and current and future needs of urban citizens?

Urban Resilience | In increasingly mobile, interconnected, and fast-paced cities, how do everyday practices of citizens contribute to the collective resilience of otherwise underrepresented groups? How can we challenge the status quo and existing social and institutional hierarchies in cities to foster processes of legitimizing the right to the city for the greatest amount of users?

Urban Commons | What do we understand as the commons, who governs them, what are long-term strategies and short-term tactics as part of the struggle over common space? How can we study spatial practices of the contest in physical space, but also through digital means? How can a productive contest over the commons benefit inclusive transformation processes and empower communities?

TENTATIVE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, 5.9.2018: 18-19 Keynote Speech | Prof. Dr. Alexa Färber (HCU)

DAY 1 (Thursday, 6.9.) Urban Transformation DAY 2 (Friday, 7.9.) Methods Approach Fieldwork DAY 3 (Saturday, 8.9.) Urban Commons / Resilience
9-11 Introductions / Participants Pecha Kucha Input: Mapping Methods (Artist) Input: Urban Commons / Theories and Case Studies
coffee break coffee break coffee break
11.30 -13 Input: F/actors of Urban Transformation Input: Writing

Methods (Author)

Input: Urban Resilience / Theories and Case Studies
lunch break lunch break lunch break
14-16 Input: Urban Transformation in the intersection of Geography, Anthropology and Urban Design Fieldtrip: Fieldnotes / Mappings / Writing Fieldtrip: Methods Urban Commons

Fieldtrip: Methods Urban Resilience

(2 Groups)

16.30-18.30 Input: Interdisciplinary Methodological Approaches Group Session: re-working the input and methods Group Session: re-working the input and methods – article proposals for journal publication
WORKSHOP DINNER Film Screening Feedback & plans for the future

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS so far

  • Prof. Dr. Alexa Färber, HafenCity University Hamburg, Dean “Kultur der Metropole”
  • Prof. Dr. Joshua Barker, University of Toronto, Anthropology Department
  • Prof. Dr. Stavros Stavridis, National Technical University of Athens Greece, School of Architecture
  • Dr. Markus Kip, Graduate School of Urban Studies, Technical University of Darmstadt
  • Sebastian Bührig, HCU, Urban Design
  • Diana Lucas-Drogan, Mapping Artist, MetroZones

ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS | The Urban Ethnography Lab is an initiative proposed by graduate students from the University of Toronto’s Ethnography Lab and Humboldt University’s Georg Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies and the Department of Social- and Cultural Geography from Humboldt-University of Berlin. The objectives are threefold: Enhance ethnographic research methods at the intersection of anthropology and geography with a focus on writing fieldnotes, go-alongs and mappings; Create opportunities for comparative urban research; Promote the creation of a research network by facilitating the exchange of students and researchers between Toronto and Berlin.

Carolin Genz is an urban anthropologist and is currently doing research at the Department for Cultural and Social Geography at Humboldt-University of Berlin. Specifically, her research focuses on practices of production and appropriation of space, urban governance and digital tools of urban resistance as a practice of urban everyday.

URL: https://www.geographie.hu-berlin.de/de/Members/1689159

Aylin Yıldırım Tschoepe is an anthropologist, architect and instructor. Her research deals with the nexus of urban and socio-cultural transformation. Through interdisciplinary theories and methods, she studies actors and networks in the material landscape emerging from the contest of knowledge, identity performances and everyday practices.

URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aylin-yildirim-tschoepe-a8697097

Special Thanks to Christian Bauer for the Design of the Workshop Poster (c) Christian Bauer, Designer & Digital Strategist, 2018.

Posted by:Carolin Genz

Carolin Genz holds a master degree in European Ethnology and Urban Cultures from Humboldt-University of Berlin (2009-2013) and is currently doing research at the Department for Cultural and Social Geography at the Humboldt-University since 2015. Her Ph.D. topic is: "Urban Resistance: Upheaval of Civil Society? Ethnographical perspectives on the transformation of urban everyday life“. Specifically, her research focuses on practices of production and appropriation of space, urban governance and digital tools of urban resistance and network practices. Furthermore, she is an academic consultant and member of the advisory board for Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity for the Senate Department of Housing and Urban Development in Berlin.

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