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January 11, 2013

Friendship and the Convivial City

Date:5-6 September 2013
Venue: FASS Research Division Seminar Room (06-42)
Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, National University of Singapore
AS7 Shaw Foundation Building, 5 Arts Link, Singapore 117570

This workshop is jointly organised by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity; Cities Research Cluster at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore.

The study of diverse and multicultural cities has gained considerable interest in recent years, reflecting a growing concern with migrant populations and the implications of 'strangers' in crowded urban societies. In this literature, one of the key considerations centers around understanding how ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse peoples "rub along" and live together in tight and dense metropolises. One strand of this research is interested in the quotidian encounter – ranging from the fleeting non-verbal to more sustained engagements over longer periods of time. In this research however, friendship as a form of social relation and interaction has been largely unexamined.

While research on friendship as a social phenomenon has been limited, our intention in this workshop is not to urge a general resurgence in the literature. Instead, we posit that friendship ties interrogated in conjunction with understandings of the diverse city, offer innovative ways to understand the urban politics of co-existence. Following Amin's (2012) recent work in Land of Strangers, we conceive of friendship networks as social ties that make possible a functioning, yet convivial, society of strangers. Friendships, in this sense, are seen as tangible ways in which the larger "urban unconscious" can be felt, linking the intimate sphere of private lives and relationships with a public urban commons.

We seek in this workshop to bring the geographical literature around the politics and spatiality of quotidian encounter together with more sociological understandings of relationships, networks and ties built on trust, respect and reciprocity. We do so in order to initiate a research agenda around the social and spatial configurations of friendship, which have implications for urban dwellers' experiences of city life, and in opening up potentialities for new ways of living together with diversity. We intend for the papers from this workshop to make contributions to contemporary understandings of everyday encounters in the diverse city, as well as further debates on the potential convivialities of dense urban spaces.

While we are most interested in friendship networks between migrant, 'strange' and marginalized Others, we are also open to readings of more traditional friendship affiliations. We are also particularly seeking papers based on empirical research on friendships in cities of the Global South. We urge contributions from scholars who have been working on issues raised here but have not explicitly articulated their work within the frames of friendship relations. All material submitted must not have been previously published as the papers will be collated for an intended publication. We seek paper submissions based on original unpublished research that reinvigorates the discussion around the social relations and spaces of friendship in cities, and their relationship to a larger urban commons.

Papers can address (but are not limited to) one or more of the following areas:
· How do ties of friendship and convivial relations characterize rapidly changing urban zones, especially in the 'Global South'?

· How do different migration and governmental regimes shape the formation and functioning of friendship networks?

· How does friendship across lines of ethnicity, class, religion and language populate the city and leave a mark on the 'urban unconscious'?

· How is 'convivial habituation' learned and communicated through friendship networks?

· When does friendship break down and how is the work of 'repair' carried out, and by whom?

· When and how do convivial relations generated through friendship networks provide possibilities to challenge dominant values and structures of power, and transcend differences in a city?

· Which types of spaces/ 'third places' in the city facilitate the formation and ongoing sustenance of convivial friendship relations?

· What are the various technologies and everyday geographies that enable and encourage the formation and maintenance of friendships and convivial relations between strangers?

· What are the affective registers, emotions and 'atmospheres' of place that characterize the spaces of conviviality and friendship?

Abstracts of 200 words, together with names, email addresses and affiliations of presenters, are to be submitted to kathiravelu@mmg.mpg.de no later than 1 March 2013.

Selected participants will be notified by the end of March 2013. Short papers of between 3,000-4,000 words are expected by mid-August 2013. Revised full papers incorporating insights from the workshop are expected by December 2013, as a condition of being funded to attend.

Workshop organizers aim to fund all travel for participants from the Asian region, and partial travel expenses for other participants. Accommodation for the duration of the workshop in Singapore will be provided for all workshop participants.

Workshop Convenors:
Dr Laavanya Kathiravelu
Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Assoc Prof Tim Bunnell
Department of Geography and Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Posted by katemw at January 11, 2013 06:50 AM


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