CFP – Public Life – Towards a politics of care: Bodies. Place. Matter.

Call for Papers: PhD Symposium, Vienna, 17th/18th April 2015 at SKuOR: Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space, TUWien, Technical University of Vienna, Austria.

Submit abstracts (250 words), short statements of motivation (250 words), and your short CV (250 words) until Friday 6  March 2015 to  Interested colleagues can register until 15th March 2015 to attend the conference by emailing to

Admission: Free

A politics of care needs to be situated between bodies, place and matter.  These come together both as elements of public and political life in cities and as as the subjects of research, knowledge production, and scientific inquiry.

This conference aims to take up the complexities of public life and a new politics of care and concern situated in the commonalities, connectivities, and nuanced spatialities between bodies, place, and matter. Three panels “Bodies. Place. Matter” examine public life and the spatialisations of care and concern from the perspectives of urban, design and cultural disciplines.  A common politics of care addresses the entanglement of infrastructures, resources, and affects, alignments, contradictions, and conflicts, labour, work, and pleasure, distribution and access, local site-specificity and a globalized production of space. If public space is indeed a critical part of public life or the embodied geographies of the public sphere, then we need to rethink its inherent potentials between everyday life practices and the production and critical reflection of scientific insights/knowing.

As a joint project between the Interdisciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (, Vienna University of Technology, Austria – where all three organizers worked together within the frame of the City of Vienna Visiting Professorship Programme 2014 –  the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria  and Space and Culture, University of Alberta, Canada, a PhD Symposium will take place on 17th/18th April 2015. The conference seeks to bring together activism, contemporary art, research, critical spatial practice well as urban theory, design and planning to reflect and discuss issues of public life and a spatial politics of care.

Panel 1 Bodies (Theme A, Elke Krasny)

The panel is less about what bodies are, but rather about how bodies act, what bodies can do, what bodies must do. Bodies are subjects. Bodies are subjected. Bodies produce. Bodies reproduce. Bodies depend. Bodies resist. Bodies are vulnerable. Bodies put themselves on the line. Bodies matter. Bodies support. Bodies care. The panel seeks to examine the implications and reverberations of austerity, globalization, rapid transformations, economic downturn, precarity, in/difference, in/justice, re/production, and re/distribution with regards to the spatialised implications of bodies co-producing public life and bodies co-dependent in a politics of care. The panel is dedicated to seeking new alignments, critical links, and productive transgressions between emergent practices, theories, and histories addressing bodies in public life and a politics of care. The panel welcomes contributions questioning, unpacking, and critiquing these complexities with a particular focus on feminist spatial agency in contemporary art, curating, urban research, and urban design, as well as the history and theory linking and transgressing these fields.

Keynote: Kim Trogal, Visiting Design Fellow, School of Architecture, University of Sheffield, Britain

Discussant: to be confirmed

Panel 2 Place (Theme B, Sabine Knierbein)

The debate around abstract spaces of capitalism and how they been mediated through planning and design professions and practice has been taken up again critically, both from relational perspectives on public space and from anthropological approaches to embodied spaces. This session is dedicated to unravel new urban planning, design and urban studies approaches addressing relational geographies and politics of care in these fields. Potential contributions to this panel might address issues of bodily experience and action, as well as relational pedagogies or curricular innovations to enhance education and reorganize elites through critical practice, action and reflection in and on public space. It welcomes contributions that seek to differentiate and qualify contemporary debates on the (re)emergence of collective interests, urban cultures and public claims, and strengthens a reading of forms of embodied resistance and protest as intervention and alteration in current modes of production of space and place.

Keynote Lecture: Prof. Dr. Kirsten Simonsen, Professor in Social and Cultural Geography, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change (ENSPAC), Roskilde University, Denmark

Discussant: Dr. Sandra Huning (TU Dortmund)

Panel 3 Matter (Theme C, Rob Shields)

Paradoxically, in a more globalized world where communication technologies have made interaction less dependent on bodies in a shared location, where the ‘spaces of concern’ lie either at planetary scales too large to grasp or nanotechnologies dissolve our faith in the solidity of matter, the materiality of bodies, trees and animals is still prominent. Concrete materiality anchors media and political concerns as the infrastructure of care and concern.  Political force appears dependent on bodies occupying public places.  Yet ‘what matters’ is only recognized within a context or ‘space of concern’ in which it takes on meaning. How are the empirical elements of cities, the bricks of public spaces and the flesh of bodies taken up through practices to become the pivots of ethical and political spatialisations of care and concern?

Keynote: to be confirmed

Discussant: to be confirmed



Friday, 17th April 2015 

Venue: Semperdepot Vienna, Lehargasse 6-8, 1060, Wien

9:00 Arrival and Registration

9:30 Opening

Panel I – Bodies

10.00 Bodies – Introduction Elke Krasny

10.10 Keynote Speech Kim Trogal

10:40-Panel I Bodies (3-4 Panel Participants)

12:30-Lunch break

Panel II – Place (Sabine Knierbein)

14:00- Place – Introduction by Sabine Knierbein

14:10- Keynote Speech Kirsten Simonsen

14:40-Coffee break

15:10-Panel II Place (3-4 Panel Participants)

17:00 Break

18:00 Evening Event


Saturday, 18th April 2015 

Venue: Semperdepot Vienna, Lehargasse 6-8, 1060, Wien

Panel III – Matter (Rob Shields)

9:00 Arrival and Coffee

9:20 Matter – Introduction Rob Shields

9:30 Keynote Speech III

10.00 Panel III Matter (3-4 Panel Participants)

12:00- Lunch break

13:30- Networking and Exchange Workshop

15:00- Coffee Break

15:30-16:30 Discussants’ Summary

Place: Mobiles Stadtlabor Karlsplatz, U-Bahn Station Resselpark, 1040 Vienna

18:00 Book Presentation „Public Space and Relational Perspectives“

Panel Debate with Dr. Sandra Huning (TU Dortmund, Germany), Prof. Kirsten Simonsen (University of Roskilde, Denmark, and others)

20.00 SKuOR Soirée (Reception)

Further information: Contact