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Bauhaus Universität Weimar/Europäische Urbanistik
Deutsches Orient-Institut, Hamburg

Call for Papers

Public Spaces and Spheres of the City

(20. - 21. January 2007, Weimar)

In the discussion about the ideal "European City" besides the
historic development from middle ages to modernity, the built form
and specific social, political and economic institutions, public
space is mentioned as one of th e main attributes.
The controversies are about the emergence and experience of a "civic
public", the relevant sites of this public as well as questions about
a possible loss of public spaces. Under parameters of the
polarisation between the public and the private, the ideal public
space is defined as something collaborative, it is communal and 057
publicly available. The dynamics of public spaces though are
determined by mechanism of exclusion, appropriation and
accessibility. It is a space of difference, visibility and
representation. Public space temporarily undergoes different
utilizations, it is not characterized by stability and continuity,
but is instead ephemeral and situational. It is thus a space which is
materially and discursively disputed. Continuous encounter and
negotiation of interests, values and attributions of meaning are what
distinguishes public spaces.
Public space is an arena of social, cultural and political
transformation processes, which become manifest at concrete urban
places. These places can be for example streets, markets, shopping
malls, gathering places or media.
In this sense we define public space in it´s complexity as a
morphologic structure, as a cultural and social space and as a
political sphere.

Research field Istanbul

Since ancient times Istanbul is one of the most important cities on
the European continent, a centre of civilization, which combines
attributes of the "European" and the "Ottoman" City. In the 20th
century the metropolis is marked by a coexistence of globalization
and localization, of modernity and tradition.
As a result of intense internal migration the city increased to 13
million inhabitants on 5500 qm on both sides of the Bosporus. In
spite of master plans to control the city development, the growths is
spontaneous and informal. As an industrial and service city in
global competition at the same time there is modernization,
globalization and informalization. The simultaneous coexistence of
extreme disparity affect as well the access to global activities as
well as the change of the physical space, which is therefore a source
for cultural conflicts about the definition of locality and identity.
These developments become manifest in the public space for example in
the restoration of the historic city centre or in current projects to
restructure former port areas and waterfronts.

Different to western European cities, in which with Enlightenment a
civic public assigned specific spaces, in Ottoman and Turkish cities
there was a complex sequence of neighbourly, religious and economic
spaces, which addressed different public spheres. In context with the
city development and modernization in Istanbul there is a vivid
discussion about the role and the meaning of public spaces, as social
and political space or under as pects of accessibility and shape of
concrete places.

Questions of the conference

- Is it possible to transfer terms and concepts of the ideal
"European City" on a metropolis as Istanbul?
- How is it possible to acquire "the public" as a theoretical and
analytical category to the investigation of urban Istanbul?
- What are the specific spaces of the public in Istanbul? Which
conformations have public spaces?
- How does the public sphere as a space of political and cultural
transformation processes become manifest?

The conference "Public Istanbul"

Aim of the conference is to discuss theoretical approaches and
research experiences concerning the subject "Public Istanbul" from
the perspective of different disciplines. We will invite scientists
of urban and cultural studies as sociology, geography, ethnology,
political science, history, architecture and arts to encourage the
dialog and exchange between the disciplines and the countries.

The conference will be an interdisciplinary forum where different
perspectives on the current development of Istanbul and its public
spaces are gathered and new research questions will be mapped out.
Selected contributions will be published as a book after the


It is planed to collect the papers of the participants of the
conference by forehand and distribute them in form of a reader to all
participants, so that on the two days of the conference after a short
statement the main thesis can be discussed.

Prospective participants of the conference are invited to send an
abstract of their paper (max 300 words) in Engli sh. Abstracts
should be submitted before 1.6.2006.

Prof. Dr. Frank Eckhardt
Dr. Kathrin Wildner

Bauhaus Universität Weimar
Bauhaus-Str. 7b
99421 Weimar
Tel. 03643-582646



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