XII Graduate Conference in Culture Studies: Space Oddity

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The overcoming of the modernist dichotomy ‘form follows function’ led to an age of confusion in architectural and spatial terms. As Norwegian architect Christian Norberg-Schulz (1965) points out, the fast-changing contemporary city seems to lack a defined architectural vocabulary and consequential visual order. What distinguishes today a church from theatre, observed from the outside? To understand the semiotics of our surroundings, now more than ever, we need to understand their diachronic depth, the meaning that spaces assume through time, experience and evolution. We should address space as a narrative process (Lotman 2005).

Thus, spaces offer today unprecedented, malleable narrative possibilities, in both their architecture and environment framed within. This means that theorists and practitioners have developed and continue to develop ideas and actions to (re-)value, (re-)enact, and (re-)use existing and new spaces, including cultural institutions, virtual realities, streets and public squares, among many others, to shape a more inclusive and convivial future. However, spaces have also been widely implemented to reiterate regimes of oppression and design new forms of violence, from urban segregation to digital surveillance.

This conference aims to bring together researchers and cultural practitioners to share (and produce) knowledge around contemporary discourses on spatial narratives and narratives on space. This discussion welcomes a multidisciplinary set of perspectives and contributions from fields such as architecture, culture, gender and urban studies, politics, design and semiotics to question and challenge the potentialities and criticalities of present spatial narratives and opportunities for future ones. We are looking for innovative and experimental approaches around the multiple natures of space and its declinations, from architectural spaces to spaces we don’t know yet, from spaces of enclosure to spaces of freedom (Laing 2016), from spaces that inhabit our collective memory to the promises of more-than-human spaces (Rehman 2017).

​​The reflections and theories developed around spatial narratives are the starting point to question which narratives we want for the future. What do the narratives of the past say about the possibilities of the future? Is it possible to imagine new relationships and narratives with/about spaces that could include contemporary issues such as care, ecologies, safety, inclusion? In which ways can space be connected to the recognition of our human, non-human and hybrid interdependencies? With this call for contributions we invite papers (but also non traditional forms of intervention, including performances, interactive presentations and video-essays) that engage in discussing the past, present and future of spatial narratives.
Period1 Jul 202331 Jan 2024
Event typeConference
OrganiserResearch Centre for Communication and Culture (CECC)
LocationLisbon, PortugalShow on map