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Conference 2016: The Good Life in the City

June 16th to June 18 2016 in Munich

We invite abstracts for presentations from scholars within cultural studies, humanities, history, geography, architecture and urban planning, whose research interests pertain the ‘good’ city and the ‘good conduct of life’ in the city. We aim to establish a forum of exchange and hope to perpetuate collaboration on theory and concept development in the future.

A List of contributors and a map with the different locations in the sections below.

How should one live in the city?
In the context of our conference, we want to approach the ‘good life in the city‘ through three theoretical aspects:

  1. conflicts around the 'good' city,
  2. social creativity and
  3. subject formation.

Our disciplines can draw on a rich history of research about social protests, conflicts and materialities, exclusions and chances in cities. We are interested in conflicts about the ‘good’ city. We assume that urban space includes and is made by a plurality of conflicting and overlying moral guidelines, which are understood, diversified, integrated or rejected and thereby 'lived' by different groups of actors in different manners. Conflicts and antagonisms about the ‘good’ city, for instance, are observable in the discourse about sustainable local economies, environmentalism and “green” tidiness. Who are the actors included in these discourses? Which moral and ethical criteria do actors apply to describe, negotiate and locate urban life? And which tensions, controversies and crises evolve from these competing and interfering guidelines?

By contrast to the long-established idea of the creative city as a question of branding to increase the marketing value of a city in their competition for ‘good’, creative and entrepreneurial citizens, we understand social creativity as concepts and practices that city dwellers envision, create and live as alternative models of city life. Negotiating different, supplementary or antagonistic (daily) practices produces new norms, values, relations and spaces. These practices and projects cause new structures and patterns of urban co-habitation to emerge. Which forms of cooperation and collaboration do actors utilize as assets in the negotiation process? What possible forms of dissent opposed to normative guidelines become visible and which conflicts are provoked accordingly? How are socially creative norms and values expressed in the production and appropriation of physical spaces?

Besides social creativity, that rather seeks to describe a revolutionary resistance in daily life, we furthermore want to explore the mechanisms of the everyday and techniques of governing, which create the ideal urban citizen. These subject formations can relate to new trends like the active, self-responsible and ethicized individual that accepts responsibility through a rhetoric of participation and more individual responsibility, often replacing formerly governmental and communal tasks. Also other ideals of being a 'good' urban citizen such as ideals of the modern, national or cosmopolitan subject are of interest. How do examples and models become general guidelines and constraints of action? Which mechanisms of disciplining and self-disciplining apply and which role does the materiality of the city play in that?

The conference will take place from 16.-18.06.16 in Munich and will be held bilingual (English/German). In addition to the classical presentation format, a session where the participants can exchange experiences and ideas on methodology and methods will be organized.

The first day of conference, 16.6.16, will take place in Haus der Jugendarbeit, Rupprechtstr. 29, 80636 Munich, Subway Line U1 station Mailingerstraße. The following two days, 17. and 18.6.16, will be held at Münchener Stadtmuseum, St.-Jakobs-Platz 1, 80331, Subway Lines U3 and U6 or S-Bahn to Marienplatz.