[csaa-forum] CALL for Papers: The Politics of Space

Helene Frichot helene.frichot at ems.rmit.edu.au
Thu Jan 13 13:12:26 CST 2005

The Politics of Space in the Age of Terrorism
A symposium reflecting on the role of architecture and design post S11

The fall of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, New York, on September the 11th, 2001, signalled an event, a punctum par excellence, which has resounded throughout the global community. Even now the ramifications of this event in innumerable socio-political fields are being keenly experienced in the destruction of homes, the increasing vigilance of mechanisms of surveillance, the control of borders and migratory flows, and the reduction of civil liberties for asylum seekers and others. For the most part a critical voice in response to what has been decisively named a terrorist act has been suppressed. Rather than open discussions addressing the usefulness of ethical frameworks, we hear the accent of a close to religious fervour  expounding the application of strict moral codes. Australia has subsequently cemented its empathetic identification with the States, which has led us alongside them into a generalised ‘war on terror’. 

Fraught with forgetfulness, we consider the threat of terrorism a contemporary one, but it is a term that gained currency at least as far back as the French Revolution. It must be considered as inextricably tied up with the politics of modern nation states and their relationships with communities, whether major or minor, colonising, indigenous or migrant. Furthermore, the war on terror, with its vague and evasive subject, the terrorist, threatens to become an indefinitely extended struggle wherein conceptions and the practice of democracy are challenged. The geo-political situation that arises out of such a war is one that is increasingly militarised as questions concerning the nature of democracy come to carry less currency than the maintenance of global security.

This symposium seeks to address issues associated with a politics of space in what we can loosely call an age of terrorism. We would like to ask what sort of spaces the rhetorical value of the term ‘terrorism’ obfuscates. Waiting places in ports and airports where ‘illegals’ are restrained, the non-places of refugee camps, quasi-military installations such as Guantanamo bay, all of these are striated spaces of control. The space of politics is also a social space dealing on a daily basis with the compaction of local and global spheres, a space in which life appears to become increasingly precarious. Likewise, it is a space of communications, and developing technologies, articulated by our networked societies and mediated by our television and computer screens. 
We welcome a broad range of interdisciplinary responses, while maintaining a particular interest in how the discipline of architecture and design seeks to address these contemporary problems. 

Symposium dates: 1 – 2 July, 2005
Abstracts: 500 word abstracts due 18 April, 2005. 
Abstracts will be peer reviewed.

Co-convenors: H*l*ne Frichot and Harriet Edquist
helene.frichot at rmit.edu.au
harriet.edquist at rmit.edu.au

School of Architecture and Design
RMIT University
Melbourne, Victoria

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