Saturday, August 05, 2006

CFP: Public Space: text and context

CFP: Public Space: text and context
15-16 March 2007 (Morocco)

Call For Papers

A public space is a place where anyone has a right to come without being excluded because of economic, social, ethnic conditions. One of the earliest examples of public spaces is the Agora, where no fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants admitted based on background. In ancient times, the agora was a public square where the exchange of information occurred alongside the exchange of goods. In the traditional sense, it is a place where citizens interact. They find an opportunity to hear one another and are provided a public space for social action. Access to the public sphere was thus essential to good citizenship without which no effective democracy would be possible, for citizenship entitles one to participate in public
affairs and decide the fate of the community, and it presumes access to the public arena where these political and social issues are discussed and resolved. Philosophers and social scientists have stressed the importance of the public space for modern democratic societies and for the “education” of the citizen, in Civil Society and the Political Public Sphere J├╝rgen Habermas defines the public sphere as "a network for communicating information and points of
view" which eventually transforms them into a public opinion.

However, history shows us that even though in theory citizenship allows one to take part in the affairs of the community, access to the public arena has always been exclusive, i.e. certain classes; categories (slaves, women) ethnicities etc… have always been barred from the public sphere. Today, as the example of the developing or emerging countries demonstrates, good citizenship cannot be achieved without a certain degree “human development”. While the values of democracy are slowly and not always surely making their way into these societies, the public sphere is still restricted to a certain educated class. In fact, whole sections of the population find themselves excluded from it because of poverty and most importantly because of the lack of education, social, and economic empowerment. The same situation could also be observed in first world countries where immigrants and certain ethnic minorities do not have
access to the public space. The aim of this conference is to trigger a reflection on topics related to public space or public sphere as textuality and as praxis. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary papers that address issues of public space in connection with literature,
the arts, social action, economic and social empowerment, and all other forms that give a sense of presence in society and in the world. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

Public space and/in literature, the arts and humanities
Minorities and (access to, or in/visibility in) public space
Public space and the politics of social and economic empowerment
Public space and human development
Hyperspace as a public space
Art and performance in urban spaces
Public space in urban policies
Public space and civil society

Please send via email (no attachments) an abstract of approximately 250 words and a short biography/Vita by December 15th 2006, completed papers expected by February 15th, 2006. Please note that the reading time is limited to 20 minutes per paper (8-9 typed pages).
Selected papers will be considered for publication, participants are therefore urged to conform their articles to the guidelines of the Chicago Documentation Style.

The Faculty of Letters offers accommodation for 2 nights and food to all participants. Air travel will be at the participants' charge. A participation fee of 100 USD is required from international participants; Moroccan Nationals are required to pay a fee of 300 MAD.
A website for the conference will be available shortly.

Please send proposals to Dr Larbi Touaf or Dr Soumia
Boutkhil (Conference Chairs)

Larbi Touaf
Department of English
University Mohamed I Ojuda
Po Box 457
60000 Oujda, Morocco
Phone: 212- (0) 5650 0604
Fax: 212 - (0) 5650 0596