The workshop examines the relationship between forms of public stranger sociality and the production of urban space. It draws upon ethnography to investigate the participation in urban publics as a form of place-making through which city residents stake claims to the city and shape the urban fabric.
This workshop will explore the formation of urban publics as forms of deliberate stranger sociality that flourish in urban environments. The participation in urban publics is a significant form of place-making through which city residents can both stake symbolic claims to the city and shape the urban fabric. While cities have always presented contexts for the close co-presence of strangers, publics involve a conscious, voluntary stranger-relationality centered around a shared activity. The question of the relationship between publics as fleeting social formations and geographically locatable urban space has not been central to the debates on public spheres that developed out of the famous Habermasian account of decline. The quasi-metaphorical usage of space that dominates in the works of many public sphere theorists elides the question of how public stranger sociality is tied to the use and production of concrete spaces. We invite papers that draw upon ethnography to reflect upon different forms of public sociality and the production of urban space. Questions to be considered could include the following: How do different kinds of publics influence the production of urban space? How do non-hegemonic groups contribute to the formation of urban publics through particular forms of sociality? How are socio-political dimensions of public urban space affected by increasing privatization and commercialization of urban environments? How are uses of public urban space regulated in the name of security and/or order, and what consequences does this have for the formation of publics? How do multiple public spheres relate to hierarchies and hegemonies?