Call for Papers

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THE URBANIZATION of (IN)JUSTICE: Public spaces in uncertain geographies

The University of Cyprus, Department of Architecture invites you to the annual meeting of the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP)’s Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures, which will take place in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Nicosia in the period between 16th and 18th May 2018. This meeting is organized in parallel to the Cyprus Network of Urban Morphology conference, “Urban Morphology in South-Eastern Mediterranean Cities: chal-lenges and opportunities”. The purpose of this meeting is to unfold, discuss, rethink and chal-lenge prevailing discourses about “just” or “unjust” processes of urban transformation from the perspective of public space. We look forward to a critical and constructive debate on the re-search, policy and public agendas about this issue to contribute to the academic and public dis-cussions on the role of public space to achieve “just” cities.

Theme. Over the past few decades, cities around the world have become radically and rapidly changed in the sense of scale, scope and complexity. This is mainly due to the increasing mobility of people, goods and information as a result of technological developments, liberalization of economic systems, economic fluctuations, wars, and climate change. These changes challenge the processes of production of built environment and create conflicts and contestations between different urban groups, who have contradicted claims on the decisions and processes influencing urban transformation.

Such situation brought the discussions on just/unjust urban transformation processes in urban research, policy and public debates. It raised questions on privileging the interests of affluent urban groups, while disadvantaging vulnerable communities. We see public space as central in these debates, as possible facilitator of a more just process of urban transformation Public space is able to embrace different political, economic and cultural manifestations of urban groups, which allow them to voice their rights on the city. Public space can also submit encounters and interactions between different urban actors and perform as a place of negotiation between them. Public space is potentially able to promote fair allocations of wealth, resources, benefits and opportunities.

Different views on public space can provide us ways of thinking to develop planning and design strategies, policy measures, civil initiatives, and social movements to oppose processes of unjust urban transformation. Yet, in the context of a rapid-shifting economic, political and social reality, it is more and more urgent for critical re-thinking of public space as facilitator of urban justice.

The aim of this conference is to share international and interdisciplinary perspectives of public space as a facilitator of (in)just urban transformation processes from various angles based on practical and/or theoretical work. We particularly welcome topics such as:

  • Public space in relation to urban just and unjust conditions, today and through time
  • Public space and equity, public space and diversity, public space, identity, spatiality and power
  • Re-thinking public space through the connections between notions of justice, social rela-tions, and spatial form
  • Responses to unjust urban patterns in form of emerging practices of self-organization and negotiations of difference in cities’ public spaces
  • Role of actors in the production of public space.
  • Everyday practices of establishing spatial justice and injustice
  • Creation of subjectivities in or with public space
  • Politics of public space

The meeting will be dedicated to the presentations, discussions and roundtables of high quality work of scholars and practitioners. We are interested in contributions from urban studies, urban planning, urban design, architecture, social geography, anthropology, sociology, ethnography, cultural studies, political science, history and others. Paper presentations will be followed by roundtable discussions to consolidate the ideas, concerns and recommendations presented during the meeting, and set the basis for further practical and theoretical explorations.

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