Power and Space: Transforming the Contemporary City

6 December 2007 - 8 December 2007

Faculty of Law

Conveners:

  • Stavros Alifragkis
  • Giorgos Artopoulos
  • Kai Fierle Hedrick
  • Popi Iacovou
  • Stamatina Th. Rassia

Advisory Committee:

  • Dr. Nicholas Bullock
  • Dr. Francois Penz
  • Dr. Wendy Pullan

Theme
The proposed two-day conference seeks to investigate how diverse forms of inquiry across different disciplines address issues of power and space in the contemporary urban environment. In studying the contemporary city, as a pluralistic cultural, economic and political system, a variety of interpretive procedures provide insights on how power shapes space and, in reverse, how space reflects power. This conference pursues both approaches: first, from the point of view of the author-designer, it aims to track the conceptualization, design and construction of space as an expression of multiple power structures, and second, from the point of view of the citizen-user, it aims to capture the experience and reading of space as dynamic power structures. The distribution of power in the contemporary city enables diverse mechanisms to transform the urban space. Studying these transformations offers ways to redefine these relations, especially insofar as it permits a reconsideration of the reasoning and the ideological convictions on which power relations are grounded.

Objectives
The conference aims to perform two functions. First, it will have an interpretative and diagnostic value in revealing existing tensions in the urban cultural landscape, providing a critical understanding of the interrelations of power and space. Second, its enquiries will be speculative in imagining possible futures for cities; we particularly solicit contributions that seek to think beyond existing situations. Both functions are served by bringing different disciplines in a dialogue through the construction of a matrix of intersecting points of approaches.

Topics
We aim to provide an open platform for discussion among researchers and practitioners from various fields (Architecture, Town Planning, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology Digital Media and Cinema, Performing Arts and other Visual and Plastic Arts) who wish to address economic, political, cultural, social and philosophical issues pertaining to the construction and experience of public or private space in the contemporary city, under the perspective of power. Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

Power in the Construction of Space
This thematic category deals with the process of conceiving, designing and constructing space, considering all the underlying power mechanisms that shape it. It can involve the construction of space as a process of mediating power relations (authorship in design, environmental rhetoric and the politics of sustainability) or the construction of space as formal expression of power.

Experiencing and Reading Space as Multiple Power Structures
This thematic category deals with the transformations occurring in existing spaces as they are experienced and read through the dynamic relations of power. It addresses issues such as the aesthetics of power, the contemporary iconography of power (contemporary monuments and their symbolic function, national and international cultural identities, the iconic building, designing for the crowds-world sports events), borderlines (exclusions, spatial discrimination, reclamation strategies, gated communities, surveillance the suburbs, control as security) or re-constructions of the urban landscape in the Arts (Cinema, Digital Art, Performance, etc).

For administrative enquiries contact Anna Malinowska