28 Jun

Poetics, Materialisms, Formations

Current Contributions to Urban Lives from Cities in the South

University of Cologne

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28-29 June 2023, Seminar Room 3.03, Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne

A Workshop on the narrative dimension of urban conviviality-inequality, Research Area [Hi]Stories of Conviviality, Mecila and Global South Studies Centre, University of Cologne

Active participants: Ajay Gandhi (LUC, Leiden), Sandra Kurfürst (UoC, Cologne), Tilmann Heil (UoC, Cologne), Daniela Vicherat Mattar (LUC, Leiden), Luzile Mae Satur (UoC, Cologne), Ramiro Segura (UNLP, La Plata), Katharina Schembs (UoC, Cologne)


It is now commonly agreed that urban socio-material life worlds in the global south demand their own conceptual language to be properly framed and understood. The resulting attentions and concepts prove to be conducive to relevant insights across world regions. This workshop explores three areas of such cross-ferptilization that are immanent to the work of invited workshop participants: poetics, materialisms, and formations.

Firstly, urban life in the global south clearly reveals the utmost importance of understanding the political also in its poetic dimension. Urban hip-hop, graffiti/tagging, or cultural and artistic performances break down the dichotomy of politics-poetics and request more extensive notions of participation and belonging. Secondly, the intersection of urban built space and the myriad forms of sociality in the city has become a key site of rethinking the relation of the material and the social. Urban infrastructure has become a primary example to draw the social and material together, to show how they become interchangeable while also interwoven to build the urban fabric. As lively matter, building materials may inform any dimension of the socio-material urban world. Far from apolitical, urban assemblages are socially and spatially layered, both laterally and hierarchically. Thirdly, urban life often is much less about purified and hegemonic moulds but about the indefinite and unpredictable process of formation in which any strict boundary between the person and society becomes blurred. For this reason, urban collectives of any kind – niches, enclaves, milieus – come into being and break down continuously. This bears both the creative possibilities and political risks of life for which southern cities are prominent examples.

The workshop will offer ethnographically and historically informed, theoretical insights into these three areas that are co-constitutive of the urban dimension of stories and histories of conviviality-inequality. It compares and juxtaposes examples from across the different regions in the global south, especially Asia and Latin America.



Wednesday, 28 June 2023

9:00-10:15 Sandra Kurfürst: “Urban palimpsests and the poetics of urban space”
Discussants: Tilmann Heil, Ajay Gandhi

10:30-11:45 Ramiro Segura: “Contesting fragmentation. Notes on urban composition practices from city margins”
Discussants: Ajay Gandhi, Luzile Mae Satur

12:00-13:15 Katharina Schembs: “Urbanists in exile. Urban planning, public housing and transnational exchange (Mexico 1970-1988)”
Discussants: Ramiro Segura, Daniela Vicherat Mattar

Lunch (individually organized)

14:45-16:00 Ajay Gandhi: “In-formation. The Gestational Politics of Sociality in India”
Discussants: Sandra Kurfürst, Ramiro Segura

16:15-17:30 Tilmann Heil: “Valued difference. Assembling social hierarchies and epistemological approaches”
Discussants: Daniela Vicherat Mattar, Sandra Kurfürst

17:45-19:15 Public Lecture by Prof. Dr. Daniela Vicherat Mattar (Leiden University College)
“The materiality of light. Luminic artivism, public space & poetic politics in Santiago”

Thursday, 29 June 2023

9:00-10:00 Debate of Public Lecture by Daniela Vicherat Mattar
Discussants: Luzile Mae Satur, Katharina Schembs

10:15-11:30 Luzile Mae Satur (UzK): “Aspirations of Transformative Process in Southeast Asian Public Spaces: Relations and Dynamics of Cities and Actors in the Global South”
Discussants: Katharina Schembs, Ramiro Segura


There is a limited number of places available. You will be informed closer to date.