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PosthumanCONTESTED EXCHANGES: SPACE, PLACE AND THE PERFORMANCE OF DEMOCRACY

Conference: ARTAUD FORUM 2015

Friday 27th – Sunday 29th March 2015, Artaud Centre, Brunel University, London

“Participation is an issue that has everything to do with the physical city and its design. For example, in the ancient polis, the Athenians put the semi-circular theatre to political use; this architectural form provided good acoustics and a clear view and of speakers in debates; moreover, it made the perception of other people’s responses during debates possible. In modern times, we have no similar model of democratic space – certainly no clear imagination of an urban democratic space.” (Richard Sennett, The Open City, URBAN AGE / BERLIN / NOVEMBER 2006 p.4)

The Arab Spring, Occupy Movement, England Riots, and Ukrainian Revolution are events that show how dissent is at its most powerful when it spills over into public space and becomes a visible event for the world to see. Of course, these events also demonstrate the potency of digital media to circulate these voices of dissent to a wider global public sphere. They therefore add value to the argument that suggests every sort of public debate and ‘politics’ can increasingly be ‘democratised’ through online platforms and virtual presences. At the same time, politicians have been encouraging ordinary people to work together with voluntary, public and private bodies in order to revitalise local communities.

However, these developments have created tensions in cities and towns. On the one hand, a ‘deliberative’ approach to citizenship has arisen that attempts to listen to local grievances and seeks to ‘empower’ people in communities through the creative opportunities that public and private investment provides. On the other hand, cities and towns have increasingly privatised their public space through the likes of new shopping centres, redevelopment schemes, and private housing schemes. Alongside these networks of gentrification, many authorities, planners, and security forces have also installed new modes of surveillance in public space that code people’s behaviour in different ways, while different governments across the world have equipped their police and security forces with increased legislative powers to regulate cities and towns.

Taken all together, these processes have created assemblages of power, fissures and fluidities in public space. Deliberative opportunities have opened up for a whole network of ordinary voices to be heard in the public sphere, while new modes of control and governance would seem to confine these voices within configurations of control. Tensions between both of these mean that novel spaces for alternative assemblages and performances of activism, citizenship and democracy have the potential to arise.

But why might performance/s in such public spaces be considered fundamental to the democratic process? Where the performance of democracy is not considered a metaphor for action or intent but as something fundamental to the process itself, how have these performances grown or have been stifled within processes already described? In an age of digital media, what is in fact the value of physical space and physical bodies for democracy? What is the role of space and place in the performance of democracy as well as in notions of ‘public’ spaces that are increasingly difficult to define as ‘of the people’ /popular/ public?

In 2015, the biannual Artaud Forum would like to meet days before Parliament dissolves on the30 March, itself the final dissolution before the UK General Election on 7 May, to consider these important issues. Indeed, at this critical moment of suspension, the Forum would like to interrogate the function and significance of place and space for (or against) the ‘performance’ of democracy, from a range of disciplinary perspectives that might include, but is not limited to, geography, history, politics, sociology, psychology, theatre, and architecture.

 

Plenary Speakers include

Davina Cooper (University of Kent)

John Parkinson (University of Warwick)

 

Conference Fees

Weekend: £45 / concession £35

Saturday or Sunday:  £25 / concession £20

Friday night launch: FREE

 

Organised by Grant Peterson, Mary Richards and John Roberts (Brunel University, London). For more information, contact Mary.Richards@brunel.ac.uk  or John.Roberts@brunel.ac.uk

 

**END**

‘Human Herbs’ – a song by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au-vyMtfDAs

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ Academia: http://independent.academia.edu/GlennRikowski

Glenn Rikowski @ ResearchGate: http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Glenn_Rikowski?ev=hdr_xprf

Online Publications at The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk/?page=pub&sub=Online%20Publications%20Glenn%20Rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

 

 

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