[Equal] urban open spaces: call for papers

EqualOpportunity (SL) equal at sl.ethz.ch
Mon Apr 12 14:33:46 MEST 2010


Call for Papers
Session: "Being Comfortable or Being Alarmed: Perception and Use of
Urban Open Spaces and the Role of Design in a Gender Perspective" 
at the 48th IFLA (International Federation of Landscape Architecture)
World Congress 
27.-29. June 2011, Zurich (Switzerland) (http://europe.iflaonline.org)
Public parks - as one type of urban landscapes - are generally
considered as places of pleasure and beauty; they are planned, built and
frequented for regeneration, to sojourn in a comfortable environment
and/or in company with others. However, media reports, social discourses
and personal experiences associate urban parks with uneasiness and fear,
too. This ambivalence is only one example of the diversity inherent in
experiencing urban built environments.
Thus, this session is dedicated to city dwellers' everyday use,
perception and experience of urban open spaces. Special attention is
paid to feelings of (un-)certainty. These feelings are relevant for a
sustainable development of cities for two reasons: First, they
circumvent urban open spaces' function as spaces of recreation and free
movement and as places of encounter. In doing so, anxieties impair open
spaces' contribution to the quality of life in cities. Second, feelings
of insecurity circumvent the public character of urban open spaces and
therewith their socially integrating function, because feelings of
insecurity entail processes of social exclusion that affect different
social groups differently.
It is a consequence of fear of sexual harassment that women do not
appropriate public space with the implicitness usual for men. This
systematic exclusion is a social reality, though based on a paradox:
>From a statistical point of view it is mainly men, who should fear
violence in public space and should therefore rather avoid it. Women, in
contrast, are first of all threatened by violence in the private sphere.
This contradiction between statistical risk and subjective feeling gives
evidence for the assumption that feelings of (in-)security are socially
constructed; they are firmly interlinked with socio-political structures
and discourses as well as subjective perceptions and imaginations.
Following questions are (re-)considered in this session:
- How is the urban built and/or green environment perceived, experienced
and used? Do these usages, perceptions and experiences indicate a
socially sustainable development of cities or do they rather counteract?

- Under which conditions and in which contexts do urban open spaces turn
into <landscapes of fear> - as experienced or imagined spaces? To what
extent does the design of places influence the everyday perception? Can
fear be <designed out>?
- How can actually existing gender differences be taken into account in
the conceptualisation and everyday use of public parks in a way that at
the same time emancipation of discriminating social structures is
advocated? Which counter strategies can be identified that antagonise
the creation of <landscapes of fear> - in terms of the material design
on the one hand and in regard to image production and social discourses
on the other hand?
The session aims to provide a supportive, though critical, atmosphere
which both facilitates debate and provides a basis for dialog between
experts of practice and research. Reflections on theories or practical
experiences and empirical case studies are likewise welcome. We would be
pleased receiving a coloured variety of perspectives. 
According to the overall submission procedure of the congress, paper
abstracts are handed in together with the session abstract.
Contingently, we will advance a joint publication.
Those interested in participating in this session should submit
abstracts of no more than 300 words to Heidi Kaspar (Department of
Geography, University of Zurich) at heidi.kaspar at geo.uzh.ch
<mailto:i.c.wallace at qmul.ac.uk>  by April 26th 2010 at the latest.
When submitting your abstract please include the following information: 
- institutional affiliation
- contact email.
Any queries, or ideas and suggestions should also be sent to Heidi
Best regards, 
Heidi Kaspar
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