CfP RFS 2017: Decolonising placemaking knowledges: considering global placemaking

Convenors: Dr Cara Courage, and Dr Anita McKeown

Paper/panel session at Royal Geographical Society 2017 Annual International Conference, London, Tuesday 29 August to Friday 1 September 2017.

Placemaking as a practice and philosophy has been written about extensively since the 1970s, in the main by US, UK and European scholars and practitioners. This session aims to open the consideration of placemaking from a global perspective, through papers from global practitioners and projects from the non-Western, non-Northern hemisphere.

Attempts to humanise the process of spatial planning and design (Healey, 2011, 2010) has evolved with the re-emergence of the importance of place (Casey, 1998) and post-colonial discourse. The potential to engage creative, collaborative and ecological practices within placemaking’s processes (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995; Silberberg, 2013; Wright, 2005) become necessities if we are to combat the negative impacts of planetary urbanisation, anthropocentric climate change and social justice and cohesion.

Broader philosophical definitions such as ‘retrospective world-building’ (Basso, 1996:5) the creation of a meaningful humanly authored world (Tuan, 1976), ‘daily acts of renovating, maintaining, and representing the places that sustain us" (Schneekloth and Shibley, 1995:274) and ‘to create a sense of belonging through place’ (Silberberg, 2013) further complicate the relationship between professionals, residents and the practice of placemaking.

From this perspective what placemaking knowledges have yet to be integrated into current practices and thinking? How might global placemaking, in particular practices and processes of placemaking from non-Western/non-Northern hemisphere countries, Indigenous practices, feminist practices and more expand the current discourse?

The session forms a panel/paper session from a broad range of fields and perspectives presenting short provocations that explore and share the concerns of such practices and how these practices can lead thinking on issues in placemaking faced in US/UK/Europe today. The panel/papers will be followed by world café breakout sessions to discuss the issues raised by the panellists with the sessions attendees.

If you are interested in joining the panel/submitting a paper, please submit an abstract for consideration, of no more than 250 words, with a short biog, by Friday, 10th February, to cara@caracourage.net and anita@smartlab-ie.com.

Successful applicants will be informed by 13th February, to confirm attendance by 16th February. Regretfully, particularly in light of the topic, no funding is available to support national or international travel so those interested should only submit an abstract if they are able to self/institution/organisation fund. 

RGS 2016 sessions

Very happy to have had the confirmation through for a total of four sessions I am co-convening with Anita McKeown from NCAD, Dublin, at this years Royal Geographical Society annual conference. 

The first is a triple session, The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research, the second, Sensory orientations: transversal practices and dissemination within art and geography. Abstracts and programme below. 

The conference takes place Tuesday, 30th August to Friday, 2nd September, all information here.  

The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research

Spatial practices are not unique to geography, historically artists have engaged with materialities as social practice (Courage, 2015; Kester, 2011; Lacy, 1998) physical environments (landscape painting, perspective) and exploring and shaping concepts of time and space (virtual worlds, telematics/telepresence). Both fields share experiences of spatial and social turns in theory (Soja, 2008; Bishop, 2006; Bourriaud, Massey, 2005), and practice (Mel Chin; In Certain Places; M12; France Whitehead) with theoretical, methodological and epistemological impacts.  

The artistic and spatial turn across arts and geographical disciplines is maturing and the conversation is not an exclusive, but mutual conversation. Artistic practices utilise geographical methods; Cartography, GIS, Spatial Inquiry, Participant Observation and share research interests with geography e.g. Information Modelling, a cultural and emotional engagement with place. Equally, geographers are utilising arts-based methods (Hawkins, 2012; Rose, 2011); visual and performative methods and methodologies e.g. Photography, Compositional Analysis, the Situationist’s dérive, to expand their understanding of the world and make connections to synthesise knowledge between disciplines.

This panel, taking inspiration from the nexus theme of the RGS-IBG 2016 annual conference, aims to bring together ‘artist-geographers’ and ‘geographer-artists’ to present on the perspective of practice-based/practice as research, engaged in nexus discourse towards social-ecological resilience.

·         Art without artists? An experiment in facilitating community-led arts commissioning, Phil Jones, University of Birmingham

·         A translocal approach to dialogue-based art, Rachelle Viader Knowles, Coventry University

·         Qualitative representation in the space between arts practice and geography, John Stell, University of Leeds

·         CRYSTALLINE - The Arctic Circle, Siobhan McDonald, artist

·         Interrogating Territory: Borders, fictions and contradictions, Anne Gough, KTH - Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm

·         Brokering Connections: public art as a nexus of knowledge production, Elaine Speight, In Certain Places and University of Central Lancashire

·         Mapping the Scottish Borders: collaborative art practices, Inge Panneels, Northumbria University

·         Mapping Systems, Frances Halsall, National College of Art and Design (Dublin)

·         Bodies of Water, Amy Sharrocks, artist

·         Visualising Changing Identities, Communities and Labour Practices on Dublins’ Docks, Moira Sweeney, Dublin Institute of Technology

·         Expeditions as Art: Impacts of Fieldwork by Artist-Geographers in Our New Ecological Reality, Andrew Ranville, artist

·         Breaks, flows, interruptions: Discovering new questions through collaborative research, Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd, artists, The Drawing Shed

 

Sensory orientations: transversal practices and dissemination within art and geography

This session presents a curated selection of papers that represent a breadth of arts practices that operate at the intersection of geographic study in the field, addressing the vital question of what is the potential for these practices to disseminate complex geographic ideas and engage individuals on a human-scale with the physical world?

The practices are sensory and embodied and variously visual, tactile, sonic, gustation, even olfaction. This session curates a range of practitioners active in research to collectively present insights into how artistic practice re-configures spatial narratives through collaborative co-performances of ‘making-sense’ producing cognitive maps (Lynch, 1976); the mental organisation of sensory experience.

As individuals navigate their daily lives they mark the environment through their own spatial practices and narratives. These interactions are often in contrast to spatial narratives developed over time through city planning, urban design and geo-political ideologies. This ongoing organisation and re-organisation transforms space dynamically and continuously into places of meaning and value (De Certeau 1984; Tuan, 1977) challenging static understandings that may come from institutional or political ideologies. Over time this enables collective constructions and re-constructions of space; socio-politically, culturally and economically.

Agile and adaptive these practices appropriate when necessary social forms and are cognizant of a range of theoretical and practical disciplines. Their critical inquiries develop creative, dynamic and complex methodologies combining ‘action with vision’ (Wright, 2005;136). Their multiplicitous trajectories (Massey, 2005) include scientific and social science research paradigms, interdisciplinary methods, human and non-human co-constituents. Collaborative by nature and design, their ‘intervention-orientated enterprises’ (Wright, 2005;136) serve to migrate and cross-pollinate ideas to traverse disciplinary frontiers.

Through their creative tools and practices the artist’s explore and exploit ruptures in physical and conceptual spatial narratives by their interactions with residents, environments, technologies and even mountains. 

·         Breaking the Frame: Spatial Ideology and Resistant Practice-led Research Approaches, Lucy Livingstone, University of Northumbria

·         Transient Space: Re-interpreting Place Through Augmented Soundscapes, Andrew Hill, artist and University of Greenwich

·         Guide74: a mountain recording activity, Luce Choules, artist

·         Collaborative Narration –An Artist’s Practice, Jane Dudman, Newcastle University

·         (Re)Art (Re)Geography (Re)Performance, Charlie Rawson, artist

Moving beyond creative placemaking at AAG 2015

This April I presented a paper on my Indianapolis case study, Big Car, at the 2015 meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Chicago.

With 9.5K delegates and sessions that span all forms of geography, the conference was as busy and buzzing as you’d expect. The arts had a healthy presence in the programme and my paper, ‘Moving beyond creative placemaking: the micropublic of a social practice placemaking project’ was presented as part of the Creative Placemaking and its Micropublics. The session was convened by Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds, and Saskia Warren, University of Manchester; fellow speakers were Micheal Rios, University of California, and Annette Koh, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

My paper aimed to disrupt the creative placemaking term as one misused in the placemaking sector; from a vernacular aspect, commonly to mean any placemaking with any arts component in it; and on a policy level, as a placemaking approach that uses the arts in placemaking to economic ends. The focus of my PhD research has been on what I have come to term social practice placemaking, one where the arts are situated at the grassroots and primarily employed for social and cultural gain, the economic imperative found in creative placemaking either missing or of lower significance. Amin’s micropublics of the title was used as a theory to explain the agency of such projects to galvanise people around arts and place and this was framed in the example of my Indianapolis case study, Big Car.