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Birkbeck Institutes of Social Research and the Humanities Graduate Conference


Space, Identities and Memory

Deadline for Submission of Abstracts: 11/03/2016.


We invite postgraduate researchers, academics, activists, artists, and practitioners from across disciplines to contribute to the Birkbeck Institutes’ (BIH/BISR) annual two day conference held from the 13th to the 14th  May 2016.

This year’s conference theme seeks to examine the interplay between identity, space and memory, exploring the ways in which identities may be created, formed and informed by spatial and temporal contexts. In particular, we seek to examine to what extent identities are performed in response to political, social and cultural pressures, including historical circumstances leading to the construction of acceptable and unacceptable identities.

The conference aims to capture the complex overlaying of identities in time and space, and the agency of individuals and communities as they address their own complex understandings of the temporality of identity. Conversely, we hope the conference will highlight how space and time are influenced and shaped by everyday life, sociabilities, mobilisations and processes of subjectivation. In particular we are seeking papers that engage with topics such as:


  • The built environment: how are housing, architecture, urbanity and concepts of public and private space harnessed in the self-fashioning of individual and communal identity?
  • Gender, sexuality and race, the politics of becoming and the deterritorialisation of the body;
  • ’Home’, domesticity and concepts of solitude and isolation across time and space;
  • Spaces of dissent and resistance: how is memory imbricated in public spaces as sites of encounters, direct action and creative practices?
  • Displacements and borders: constructing or disassembling boundaries from local to global;
  • Explorations in the use of maps, social cartography and critical geography;
  • Exclusion and inclusion in institutional spaces: how have institutionalised spaces cemented or challenged contemporary and past perspectives on identity?
  • Narrating the past: memorialisation, contestation and re-enactment
  • Innovative methods and approaches in the investigation of the intersections between space, identity and memory


Our first confirmed keynote speaker is Andy Merrifield. The conference will conclude with a round table bringing together activists, practitioners and academics.

This is an interdisciplinary conference, designed to foster creative thinking and new research agendas. To this end, we encourage papers from a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds that explore the interconnections of space, identity and memory.

We are particularly interested in receiving contributions from artists and practitioners in education, the heritage sector or related fields to participate in this interdisciplinary conference.


We warmly welcome abstracts for 20-minute panel papers. Abstracts should be between 200-300 words in length. Please include a short biography with your submission.  The deadline for submission of abstracts is the 11/03/2016. Authors will be notified regarding the acceptance of their paper after submissions have been reviewed and no later than 31/03/2016.

Contact Details

Please send enquiries and proposals to Beth Hodgett, Calum Wright, Eva Lauenstein & Moniza Rizzini at:

images (11)


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Celestial Dome Inverted

Celestial Dome Inverted


Recess, in conjunction with The Public School New York, Presents:

Dark Nights of the Universe
et nox sicut dies illuminabitur

A four-night theoretical exploration of mysticism in dialogue with Du noir univers, a text by François Laruelle.

April 26th – 29th, 2012

Classes nightly at 7pm


Night I: Eugene Thacker – Remote: The Forgetting of the World
Clodagh Emoe – Mystical Anarchism. Screening and discussion. Introduced by Simon Critchley.


Night II: Daniel Colucciello Barber – Whylessness: The Universe is Deaf and Blind.


Night III: Nicola Masciandaro – Secret: No Light Has Ever Seen the Black Universe


Night IV: Alexander Galloway – Rocket: Present at Every Point of the Remote


Classes will begin at 7pm. Visitors are welcome to join each day or a selection of days.

Recess will house a temporary library of relevant texts, which visitors may browse and annotate freely throughout Recess’s public hours and during the classes.  The exhibition will feature visual works by  Clodagh Emoe and Aaron Mette, and audio works by Eugene Thacker and Taku Unami.


Daniel Colucciello Barber, Simon Critchley, Clodagh Emoe, Alexander Galloway, Nicola Masciandaro, Aaron Mette, Eugene Thacker, and Taku Unami.

Download Du noir univers. The English edition of this essay was first translated and published by Miguel Abreu as “Of Black Universe in the Human Foundations of Color” in the catalogue Hyun Soo Choi: Seven Large-Scale Paintings (New York: Thread Waxing Space, 1991): 2-4. It has been reproduced here with a few slight modifications. The original French essay, titled “Du noir univers: dans les fondations humaines de la couleur,” was published in La Décision philosophique 5 (April 1988): 107-112.

Audio archive of the series available here.

RSVP encouraged: click here.

Download the press release.

Click here to view images.

For image request or more information contact


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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  or



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LONDON, August 2013

Artists and Gentrification at the Urban Frontier: Questioning the Causes, Consequences and Validity of the Artist-Gentrification Correlation

The purported relationship between artists and gentrification has a significant and long-standing presence in the urban literature, much of it supporting the notion that where artists go, fashion, money and commerce inevitably follow (Evans & Shaw, 2004). From the Latin Quarter and Montmartre of C.19th Paris (Norton, 2004), Greenwich Village in the inter-war period (in Graña, 1990), to New York’s SoHo (Zukin, 1982) or London’s East End (Green, 2001) in more recent times, artists’ arrival in previously marginal and often oppositional environments is seen to precede increased property prices, displacement of extant communities, and an upgrading of the symbolic landscape to mesh with an altogether different class of citizen. But how inevitable and inexorable is this process? Has there perhaps been under-reporting or under-emphasis of cases where the activities of artists have instead lead to increased marginality via, for example, further disinvestment, depopulation and/or physical decline? Alternatively, might too little attention have been paid to the workings of artist-gentrification interrelationships in non-Western or less high profile contexts? Must the arrival of artists signal an impending taming and reclaiming of the urban frontier, or are alternative outcomes possible?

If, however, this idea of artist-led gentrification should indeed be shown to hold water, then we are interested in the mechanisms through which it takes place; and how artists’ roles might be usefully conceived and appraised. For example, are portrayals of artists as gentrification victims (e.g. Ley, 1996) tenable, or is the active agent characterization (e.g. Deutsche & Ryan, 1987) more apt, in light of the by now heightened (self)awareness of artists’ allegedly catalytic function? Might artists’ attempts to challenge the forces of gentrification and secure alternative outcomes (Vivant 2010) offer a way out of this victim versus perpetrator framing? Should intent (or lack thereof) to gentrify have a bearing on how the effects of their presence are judged? Or could it be that urban-oriented academia under-appreciates the policy view which tends to highlight the positives of gentrification and suggests artists embrace rather than disown their role in the process? Indeed, has artists’ participation in the widespread rollout of ‘staged’ or ‘policy-led’ gentrification and regeneration (e.g. Atkinson and Easthope 2009) engendered a reformulation of previously popular conceptions of the artist as being opposed to, yet paradoxically implicated in, dominant models of capitalist urban development?

We welcome papers which interrogate alleged artist-gentrification interrelationships from a variety of perspectives and geographical contexts, and which might address but are not limited to the following:

·         To what extent might the idea of gentrification as an almost inevitable outcome of artists’ engagement with the urban frontier be challenged by theoretical or empirical advances?

·         Artists have been portrayed as ‘stormtroopers’ of gentrification, in what ways have local communities resisted artist-related gentrification and how successful have they been?

·         How have artists, perhaps in conjunction with local communities, challenged the idea or process of gentrification and how successful have they been?

·         Who are the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the artist-led gentrification game? To what extent might artists be accurately portrayed as gentrification victims, agents, or champions of alternative outcomes?

·         How has the framing of artists’ social identities and roles been affected by the spread of ‘staged’ or ‘policy-led’ gentrification/regeneration models?


Please send abstracts to session convenors Luke Binns or Viktoria Vona:, by February 4th




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Call for Papers

Here are the details: Taking up Space Cultural Studies Postgraduate Event 25th – 26th June 2012, Goldsmiths College, University of London 

This is a one / two day conference exploring the meaning and understanding of space in its physical manifestations as well as in its discursive forms; through which identity, meaning, value and authority can be mapped in particular ways.

We cannot avoid space. It is inevitable. The ways in which we understand ourselves, others and the world around us implies some notion of space. Our sense of self and society is worked through and is contained in space: culture does not only take place, but also creates it “making symbolic use of its objects” (Lefebvre).

To what degree does our conception of space change when we understand ourselves as self-enclosed or permeable beings? Can art and performance therefore mediate the relationship between the self, objects and environment? “The activities of travel, journey and navigation fabricate the social world as well as reveal it” (Caroline Knowles).

The space of the streets has become the site of dis-order and territory has become a prime issue for understanding contemporary social tensions. The recent riots in the UK brought into the forefront questions such as who owns space, how we can use this as a place for resistance and what notions of space are currently active in shaping and operating the socially constructed body. The possession of a categorized space can be considered in line with homelessness as a dislocation of the public and private, attesting to the multi-dimensionality of space and both the potentials and restrictions embodied in it.

The upcoming Olympics also signify the difficulties facing spaces contesting belonging and struggle. Questions of locality and identity are important, inciting questions of nationalism and tourism, paramount to the formation of cultural identity. In turn, the Occupy movement and one year anniversary ofTahrir Squarereinstates the need to define sacred and everyday space and the potentials in multiple usages of place. This conference will ask how can we negotiate the historicisation of memory? The aim of this conference is to rethink how space is interacted with and reconfigured in different mediums as a site for action as well as containment. If we cannot avoid space how can this be used to further an understanding of self or curtail ideas of autonomy? How are we embodied by space and embodying it at the same time? In what ways can space be used as a site for artistic and political development and how does the contemporary world and being become through the spatial? We welcome proposals for papers, discussions, short film, dance, performances, workshops and other engagements and activities engaging among others with the different ways of being in space.

Topics, experiences, understandings and possibilities might include but are not restricted to: • Temporality and embodiment • Knowledge and materiality • Interaction between objects and self • Memory/ history/ time • Bodies and public and private • Restrictions and exclusions • Performance / realm of aesthetics • Identity/ territory / alienation • Subversive potential – resistance / containment 

Abstracts/ proposals of 300-500 words should be sent to by 15th March 2012. 

Program will be confirmed mid-April. 


‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (recording) and (live, at the Belle View pub,Bangor, northWales)  

‘Stagnant’ – a new remix and new video by Cold Hands & Quarter Moon:  

‘Cheerful Sin’ – a song by Victor Rikowski:

‘The Lamb’ by William Blake – set to music by Victor Rikowski:

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas:

Online Publications at:

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