Archive for March, 2013

Questioning the limits and problems of resistance in public space.

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

More good news. The session proposed to the 2013 conference of the RGSIBG (28 – 30 August) by Lars Meier and me was accepted in full, so that we will have two consecutive time slots. This should allow for a good framing and many opportunities for discussion and shared development of our theme.

We are really happy that this worked out so well and are looking forward very much to going into more depth with the problematic sides of art and resistance in public spaces, which we really think is tremendously under-researched, as political and artist action seems quite prone to turning a blind eye towards its own reach and its potentials for exclusion.

Below you will find the program for both sessions. The final program is not yet set up, so we don’t know the exact date & time:

Resistance in public spaces – Questions of distinction, duration and expansion (1)

Convenor(s): Lars Frers (Telemark University College, Norway), Lars Meier (Technical University of Berlin, Germany):
Chair(s): Lars Meier (Technical University of Berlin, Germany)

· Questioning the limits of resistance
Lars Frers (Telemark University College, Norway), Lars Meier (Technical University of Berlin, Germany)
· Joubert Park Project: The limits of resistance in an urban public park
Ingrid Marais (University of South Africa)
· Independent Art Spaces in Egypt
Elisabeth Jaquette (Columbia University)
· Temporary use as perennial challenge: A case study of the grassroot’s role in re-establishing the right to the city in post-quake Christchurch
Suzanne Vallance (Lincoln University, New Zealand)
· Moral resistance: Performing Pro-Life and Pro-Choice resistance in public space
Lucy Jackson (University of Sheffield)

Resistance in public spaces – Questions of distinction, duration and expansion (2) – discussion & conclusions

Chair(s): Lars Frers (Telemark University College, Norway)

· The resistance of fun – fixed-gear cycling in public spaces
Roman Eichler (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg)
· Tiananmen: The ‘Half-Life’ of the Event
Robert Emerton (Keele University)
· Spatial rights, aestheticisation of collective memories, and resistance to gentrification in Guangzhou, China
He Shenjing (School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-Sen )
· Discussant
Monica Degen (Brunel University)

Absence matters.

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Finally! My submission to cultural geographies has passed all reviews and is available “OnlineFirst”. The article is the opener for a special issue with the title Absence. Embodiment, materiality, resistance which is edited by Lars Meier, Erika Sigvardsdotter, and me. It seems as though we’ll have to wait until at least the end of 2013 for the special issue to appear in actual print, since there are a few other issues already in the pipeline before ours.

In any case, the production of this article has both been more rewarding and more challinging than many others. The first draft did not really go into much depth regarding the critiques of phenomenology that are being challenged in this article. I opted instead for a more “hermeneutic” constructions, where a problem is posited, developed in conjunction with a few descriptive episodes and then discussed in detail in the main part of the article. But the world of English-style publishing convention has of course caught up with me (again), and necessitated major changes. I was urged to begin with the deconstructivist critique of phenomenology as being obsessed with presence and oblivious of absence, since this is the basis for John Wylie’s widely cited critique of phenomenology in the name of absence. So I had to delve into the depths of Derrida’s critique of Husserl, necessitating more Husserl reading in turn and some venturing into Lévinas. This took a lot of time and even more effort and changed the tone of the article into a much more theoretical piece, but so be it.

The good thing is that I now feel quite confident about the epistemological basis of phenomenology and its perception in other schools of thinking, granting me a much better foothold than before. This also taught me – once again, actually – that a very clear introduction, which completely focuses on placing your research in relation to other publications (in the same channel), is of crucial importance in the english-writing world of academic publishing. No amount of problem-centric argumentation will help around this. I can understand where this comes from and also see the benefits of this procedure, but it doesn’t really fit my style of thinking, as I do not like to start an argument by telling people who is think was right and who was wrong and how my argument will be better than theirs. I much prefer to home in on a problem and then present arguments considering this issue.
In any case, what was nice indeed was to see how helpful journal editors can be in communicating the often conflicting feedback given in peer review. This is a very difficult job that calls for a difficult combination of sensitivity and clear judgement at the same time. Not easy to achieve.

Here is the link to the article:

As usual for publications managed by Sage, the article will be available exclusively through their site for one year, after which I am allowed to host the last manuscript form on my own website. (Until then: send me an e-mail if you don’t have access and would like to take a look at the article.)