[oberlist] SE* CfP/conf/urb: Grassroots in the City Urban Movements and Activism in Central and Eastern Europe=?iso-8859-1?Q?=2C_S=F6dert=F6rn_University=2C_Stockholm=2C_24-25_May_201?=3

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Thu Nov 15 02:12:16 CET 2012

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: [BAN] CfP: Grassroots in the City Urban Movements and Activism in
Central and Eastern Europe, Södertörn University, Stockholm, 24-25 May
From:    "Archer, Rory (rory.archer at uni-graz.at)" <rory.archer at uni-graz.at>
Date:    Tue, November 13, 2012 11:33 am
To:      "Balkans at list.uni-graz.at" <Balkans at list.uni-graz.at>

Von: Adam Fagan [mailto:a.fagan at qmul.ac.uk]

International conference on

Grassroots in the City:

Urban Movements and Activism in Central and Eastern Europe

Conference venue: Södertörn University, southern Stockholm, Sweden

Dates: 24-25 May 2013

The conference seeks to gather researchers working in the field of social
movements and civic activism in the urban environment of Central and
Eastern Europe. The aim is to discuss the prerequisites for, and forms of,
collective action in cities in this social context.

Theme and rationale

Why a focus on collective action in cities? Conflicts in the city are
illustrative not only of processes of urban restructuring and renewal, but
also of larger processes and structures: economic restructuring and
competition; migration and cultural diversity; and social cleavages and
polarization. Cities are a critical junction, where global economic forces
play out in a local setting. They are arenas in which different social
interests compete, and claims to the right to the city and to a decent
living are raised and contested. Consequently, a wide range of citizen
mobilizations appear in the interface of the local and global that the
city provides.

Urban movements, their mobilizations and their struggles are local, but
they are not just local. They are often 'trans-local', in that they draw
inspiration from local struggles elsewhere or are linked with

them through the internet or other networks. Others have conceptualised
such movements as 'glocal', in their combining local and global
orientations, or as 'extra-local', in that their claims simultaneously
also address national or global politics (Hamel, Lustiger-Thaler, Mayer
2000). Urban movements do not fit neatly into the conventional
categorization of 'new' (identity-based) social movements and the 'old'
mobilizations around the 'social question'. Some have pointed to an
increasing amalgation of 'new' social movements with 'old' social issues,
such as poverty, social exclusion or homelessness, and where urban
movements combine the concerns of old social movements with the utopias
and action repertoires of the new social movements (Roth 2000). Nor do
urban movements fit neatly into dichotomies between, on the one hand,
service-providers and self-help collectives and, on the other, pressure
groups and collective action. Rather than 'either or', they are typically
'both and', being at once multifunctional in nature, practically oriented
and oppositional (Jacobsson & Saxonberg 2013).

The citizen mobilizations we have in mind may be spontaneous and
short-lived or well-organized and long lasting. They may be reactive or
proactive. They may be reactionary or progressive in their claims. What
they have in common is the aim to challenge the present state of affairs
and to empower citizens on issues related to their daily lives.

Why, then, a focus on Central and Eastern Europe? For any social scientist
interested in social change and the collective action that it spurs, the
CEE region provides a splendid opportunity to test and develop
social-movement theory - including that on urban activism. In this part of
Europe, recent decades have been marked by liberalization of housing and
urban policy, often opening fully to market forces; and often by problems
such as the deterioration of the housing stock, inadequate state policies
or legislation, and insufficient production of social housing (e.g.
Tsenkova 2000, 2009). Such shortcomings have also brought about
mobilizations and protests among residents demanding urban policy changes,
safe living conditions and sustainable housing. There have been citizen
protests to protect green areas and against the privatization of public
space. Thus far, however, research on civil society in Central and Eastern
Europe has often been focused on NGOs. Civil society is seen as weak. The
NGO-ization literature gives us one, no doubt valuable, picture of civil
society activity in the post-state-socialist countries. However, informal,
more-or-less spontaneous grassroots mobilization takes place too. Yet
despite evidence suggesting that 'self-organized activism' at local or
neighbourhood level may be the most frequent kind of civic activism in
post-communist Europe (e.g. Cisar 2013), the study of urban movements and
activism in the CEE region has largely remained a blind spot in
international social-movement and civil-society studies (for some
exceptions, see Ivanou 2010; Làng-Pickvance, Manning, Pickvance 1997;
Pickvance 2000).

Nonetheless, the recent initiative of a yearly congress of urban movements
in Poland indicates that urban activism is thriving in at least some
places in the region. Interventions of activists from autonomous/anarchist
environments in the struggle for affordable housing in Poland exemplify

socio-economically and structurally weaker groups can join hands with
'middle-class radicals' in local struggles. 'Urban guerilla gardening' is
one example of how citizens take matters into their own hands in
attempting to create a more hospitable living environment in the city. Is
there even a rise in urban activism across the region? The extent to which
that is true - and the extent to which collective action by citizens can
actually change the status quo and make an impact on public policy or
their own living conditions - are questions that we would like to explore
at this conference.

We thus invite contributions on:

- urban activism concerning housing or homelessness, the local and urban
environment, energy and other public services or other neighbourhood
initiatives and mobilizations;

- the creative appropriation and use of public space in the city for
claim-making, resistance, manifesting or living utopias or making the city
a more hospitable place to live;

- attempts to theorize the structural forces, systemic contradictions and
social tensions to which the grassroots mobilizations respond, or the city
in the intersection of local and global forces and the role of civil
society in the shaping of the life of the city.

We also invite a discussion of whether established theories are adequate
and sufficient to deal with the specificities of the CEE region and
collective action there, and the types of theory development that are

Conference format and abstract submission

We aim for a fairly small conference with a limited number of
participants, to allow for a good intellectual atmosphere and fruitful
exchange around all papers presented. As there will not be parallel
sessions, we aim for 12 paper presentations. In addition, another 20
people could be present and take part in discussions.

Paper-givers will be expected to present a full (and developed) paper to
be circulated to all participants ten days before the conference. All
papers will have designated discussants and all participants should be
expected to discuss others' papers.

Funding for travel and accomodation will be provided for paper-givers,
while other participants travel at their own expense. The conference as
such is free of charge and lunches will be provided for all.

To present a paper, submit an abstract (of about 300 words plus an author
description containing information about your research interests and some
previous publications, no later than December 1st 2012. It should be sent
to: kerstin.jacobsson at sh.se.

To participate without a paper, indicate your interest to Kerstin
Jacobsson by the same date.

Conference organizers:

Kerstin Jacobsson, professor of Sociology, Södertörn University

Elzbieta Korolczuk, researcher, Södertörn University

Dominika Polanska, post-doc at CEEES, Södertörn University

in collaboration with CBEES (Centre for Baltic and East European Studies).

Academic committee: Chris Pickvance, professor emeritus, University of
Kent and Adam Fagan, professor, Queen Mary, University of London.

Södertörn University is a young university in the south of Stockholm,
specialized in the study of Central and Eastern Europe. It hosts the
Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES) and the Baltic and
East European Graduate School (BEEGS).

(P.S. Some participants may also want to participate in a one day
conference on "Rethinking urban social movements", with talks by Margit
Mayer and Justus Uitermark, at Gothenburg University 22 May 2013. More
info will be published in January on this website:
(http://www.socav.gu.se/forskning/forskningsgrupper/csm/). For any
queries, please contact Håkan Thörn (hakan.thorn at socav.gu.se)).

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