A Keynote Address at the Urban Creativity Conference, Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art, Lund, Sweden.
May 17, 2019, 3pm
This talk interrogates the nature of the urban public domain by specifically attending the intensities and the phases it generates. A comprehensive view on the phenomenon of publicness, it is suggested, is required to attend its ecological facet – more precisely, as it will be seen, its multi-layered ecology – but also to explain its intrinsic vital qualities. The latter hints to the phenomenon of intensity. After reviewing the main features of publicness (“what is specifically public in public space?”), a broader picture of the public domain can be sketched that includes the processes of mediation. But whereas mediation suggests a ‘continuist’ take, a discontinuities can likewise be detected in the public domain. Coining from physics, the latter could as well be called ‘phase transitions’. How are phase transitions correlated to the intensive moments of publicness? This is the pivotal question for discussion.
Abstract. This piece explores ‘domesticity’ as a social territory defined by the relationship it entertains with the conceptual and material space of ‘the wild’. The leading research question can be framed as follows: do these two spaces stand in opposition to each other, or are more subtle relations of co-implication at play? As we enquiry into the domestic and the wild, a richer conceptual map of notions is drawn, which also includes the public, the common, the civilised and the barbarian. The case study that illustrates this dense intermingling of categories is offered by the case of Daniza, a wild brown bear introduced in the Brenta Natural Park on the Italian Alps in the 2000s, who repeatedly came into unexpected, accidental contacts with humans. Declared a ‘dangerous animal’, Daniza was controversially killed by public authorities in 2014, officially in an attempt to capture her with anaesthetising bullets, but in a way that still leaves doubts about the degree of voluntariness of the killing. The piece argues that the domestic and the wild constitute two semiotic-material domains constantly stretching into each other without any stable or even clear boundary line, and elaborates a series of corollaries for studying animals in urban contexts.
I’ve been invited at a roundtable at Les Rencontres d’Averroès (Marseille), titled “Entre renaissance citoyenne et transparence politique. Révolution numérique ou contrôle des libertés ?” (19th Edition, La cité en danger? Dictature, transparence e démocratie)
Drawing on ethnographic observation of a tract of urban riverbank in the city of Trento, in northern Italy, we attempt to link phenomenological observation of social interaction in public places with larger political concerns about contemporary urban public space. While agreeing with Low et al. (Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space & Cultural Diversity. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005) that in order to foster public spaces it is necessary to accommodate the differences in the ways social classes and ethnic groups use and value urban sites, we also argue that one should be wary of planning hubris—which can occur in even `good-willed’ planning, and leads to the creation of domesticated and formalised, but also inherently restricted, spaces for encountering differences.
Urban Studies April 12, 2011
Abstract. The paper aims to contribute to the study of new media technologies in urban environments. It unfolds at two levels, epistemological and substantive. First, it discusses the issue of the conceptual tools that we can deploy to understand new media, arguing in favour of notions and methods that enable research to capture the double nature, socio-technical and bio-political, of the new media in urban environments. In particular, the paper claims that new media can be seen as a continuation of the process of ‘urbanisation of territory’ described by Foucault, aimed at the creation of a flexibly controllable space of events. Secondly, it criticises substantively the techno-enthusiast user-empowerment ideology that surrounds new media and addresses issues of inequality, control and resistance in and through new media in the city. The argument is that the augmented, hybrid or mixed urban reality of new media like personal and locative media is neither determinist nor unboundedly mobile. While the freedom of movement and the diverging styles of mobility are becoming a crucial factor of stratification, new tensions and struggles over the nature of urban ‘events’ are likely to take place.