Capital Cities in Transformation: Spaces, Actors, and Transfers

Capital Cities in Transformation: Spaces, Actors, and Transfers
September 8 -9, 2011 / Humboldt-University BerlinWorkshop Synopsis

The workshop will deal with the specific situations taking place within
capital cities. These cities are the central stage of their countries, the
place where the national image is produced and performed, allowing it to
be communicated both to a national audience as well as to the outside
world, including global actors such as international
organizations, foreign politicians or tourists. Such cities function
equally as arenas of national representation as well as laboratories in
which different competing concepts of social order, everyday life and
lifestyles are created and tested. This quality of capital cities leads to
constant movement and to changes in the manner of representation, in
symbols of the local space and in everyday practices of appropriation and
implementation. In the course of accelerated and critical
transformations, the urban spaces of capital cities are quickly
converted into “battle fields” where distinct concepts and
representations of the social order fight for hegemony.

During the workshop, one panel will be devoted to the analysis of
capital cities in their cultural, national, religious or ethnic
configurations: In what way are these highly prioritized meta-images
manifested in any respective capital city and its spaces? Which
different concepts of urban spaces did/do prevail in socialist and
western, in secular and strongly religious societies?

Thus, from this perspective, it is also essential to explore the actors of
this public space: How do they interpret and construct culturally
different urban spaces in the capital cities? Which practices of
appropriation do they develop and to what extent are these practices
induced by the transformation? How do transformations within the
population structure, through processes such as gentrification and
segregation, deindustrialization or ruralization, and related population
movements, e.g. resettlements, (e)migration, mass exodus and influx,
affect the occupation of public space (in the literary and figurative
sense)?

Furthermore, the consequences of transformations will also be
highlighted in the workshop: To what extent are the consequences
composed of different societal concepts of “western” origin and are they
regarded as a form of modernization? How do the conditions of public space
and practices of appropriation and everyday life change through these
transformation processes such as deindustrialization,
post-socialism, secularization or Europeanization? And to what extent
could the concepts and theories of western origin dealing with public
space and civil society be applied to explain the diverse transformation
processes?

Based on empirical case studies of different capital cities, the
following questions will be discussed: Which specific actors and
practices, and which political, economic and legal conditions in the
public space of the capital cities, are characteristic of which
political systems and cultures? Which role do the traditional vision and
usage of the public space as well as new and diverse globalized concepts
play in this public space? Particular attention will be given to
subcultures and practices of resistance in different urban spaces.

Abstract and Paper Submission Deadlines

We would like to ask interested potential applicants to send us a
300-word abstract by 29 April 2011, which should also include questions to
be discussed. Please also send us a short CV.

The deadline for the papers (6-10 pages in total) is 15 July 2011. The
workshop will consist of many discussion panels on which the short papers
will be reviewed and presented by the external commentators to be followed
by a joint discussion involving all participants.

Contact Information
Please send the abstracts, CVs and final papers to the following email
addresses:
madlen.pilz@staff.hu-berlin.de
krebsmel@hu-berlin.de
harutyunyan_anna@yahoo.com

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