ENTANGLED MILIEUS: Co-Constituting a Shared Futurity

Aleksandar Stanicic's picture
Type: 
Conference
Date: 
October 22, 2022 to October 30, 2022
Location: 
Cyprus
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Borderlands, Environmental History / Studies, Urban Design and Planning, Urban History / Studies

International Conference co-organized by the University of Cyprus (LUCY), Delft University of Technology (Borders & Territories Research Group) and the University of Sheffield. To be held in Cyprus, October 22 - 30, 2022.

 

ENTANGLED MILIEUS: Co-Constituting a Shared Futurity (slow, un-disciplined conference)

 

The milieu emerges from an onto-epistemological entanglement where meaning and matter, or discursive and material practices, co-constitute the shared, living environments of human subjects and more-than-human entities alike. In these entanglements differentiation is the norm, and thus conflict and tensions are unavoidable, particularly in zones in which anthropocentric action accounts for radically asymmetrical environmental transformation. The striation of landscapes through the imposition of large-scale infrastructures; the devastation of ecosystems through resource extraction; rampant sprawl at the hand of real estate industries; the exhaustion of soil quality through agro-industrial monocultures; and the pollution and contamination of entire habitats are but a few examples of the detrimental actions over the environment typical of global neoliberal capitalist interests, and their blind advance toward the dead-end of ‘progress, growth and profit’. The growing awareness of the -often irreversible- impact of these actions upon the landscape triggers a host of responses and reactions, from environmental and social struggles and resistance, to incommensurable attempts to ameliorate the damage through a discourse set in techno-deterministic ‘solutionism’, a myopic managerial approach that time and again fails in its futile pursuit of so-called ‘least resistance paths’.

What this attitude occludes and ignores is the significance of politicized material territories, everyday resistances and minor practices through which another milieu is generated: one that emerges from the entanglement of discourse (meaning) and materiality (space-matter). This milieu unfolds through human interventions on the territory, and is co-constituted by material, spatial and political conditions that transform the meaning of the ground, the land, the soil, the earth on the one hand, and on the other, of other critical elementary components and substances constitutive of the environment such as air and water. What these conditions reveal is not only that the trans-scalar spatial implementation and the desire for geo-political capture and control have deep implications for our understanding of the lived environments, of the middle, of the milieu. They also evidence the limits of their own instrumentalization:  where political potentiality wavers, other, undisciplined material-discursive practices emerge, perhaps offering alternatives to re-imagine shared futurities.

In this light, the conference broadens the scope of territorial considerations through an understanding of material-discursive engagements, entanglements and practices through which the milieu is constituted. It incorporates the instrumentalization of critical elementary ‘substance-spaces’ of soil, water and air and extends them into the investigation of the thick surfaces and critical zones of our living environment. To produce and generate futurity-oriented imaginaries that address rising and raising frictions, as well as conflicting and conflictual conditions, an undisciplined perspective, that is, an approach that takes distance from any sort of binarism, and/or (mono)disciplinary specificity is paramount.

If the previous conference ‘Mediating the Spatiality of Conflicts’ concluded that conflicts produce contested territories, and that the very locality within that territory can have a certain agency where forms of activation, types of actions and no-borders activisms might have emerged, in the upcoming conference we will investigate how architecture and landscape architecture as a material-discursive practice profoundly acts upon these thick surfaces and critical zones.

Where does the spatial-material understanding of the milieu situate itself within specific interactions, entanglements, networks or ‘relationscapes’? Does the produced ‘non-native land’ still allow for further appropriations? How does the manifestation of ongoing geo-political conflicts obscure or alter such relationscapes? Are the ‘soiled’ (material) and mediated (discursive) substances co-constitutive of milieus that transform and change according to day-to-day encounters? Are these still conducive to living conditions? How can we take into consideration non-human -or more-than-human- agents (animals, plants, machines, artificial intelligence, i.e.) with whom we share the milieu?

 

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION:

Deadline: April 01, 2022

a. Call for reports from the field

In an attempt to radically rethink the conventional idea of the academic conference, the organizers enrich the call for paper proposals, with a call for participation to share individual and collective cross-media works. Under the heading ‘reports from the field’, the organizers invite researchers, scholars, activists, practitioners and artists to formulate and develop inquiries into entangled milieus in Cyprus, in any format and modality they feel appropriate: journalistic reports, drawings, films, archival work, photographs, photographic essays, research reports, etc.

They should address the entangled spatial relationships between air, water and soil from the following three perspectives:

1. Natural resource-extraction

2. Food-production

3. Land-consumption

The organizers ask from the participants to describe their contribution and to specify from which of the three perspectives they depart from. The participants should also indicate whether they collaborate with partners based in Cyprus. Reports from the field from elsewhere, brought and compared to the context of Cyprus, are also welcome. No selection will take place, and no one will be excluded from the discussion.

Within the framework of the three perspectives, the organizers will run three milieu inquiries, in Cyprus. Depending on the content of the proposals, and the interest of the participants, the organizers will specify the milieu inquiries and their fields. Potential areas are: a. Skouriotissa / Lefke area regarding entangled milieus departing from natural resource extraction; b. the agriculture areas of Famagusta region both south and north of the UN cease fire zone regarding entangled milieus departing from food production; and c. the island’s coastal areas real estate development, both north and south of the divide, regarding entangled milieus departing from land consumption. 

Part of the inquiry will be to formulate a critical stance of discursive practices in such contexts, towards a co-constitution of shared futurities. The work on the three fields of inquiry comprise the first part of the conference and will take place between the 22nd and 28th of October. The outcomes will be shared with the rest of the conference’s participants during the second part that will take place on October 29 and 30.

b. Call for papers

In addition to the call for ‘reports from the field’, the organizers invite scholars and participants who are interested in presenting an academic paper at the conference, to submit paper proposals that address the questions of ‘entangled milieus’ through a discussion of shared futurities. The nature of this ‘undisciplined’ conference specifically asks for contributions stemming from an abundance of different points of view, in an attempt to initiate a debate across disciplines, while also relating examples of practice with scholarly positions.

 

Format of statements of intent

The participants should send their statements of intent for both genre of contribution. The statements of intent should not exceed 300 words and they should be accompanied by a short biographical note (100-200 words). They should be sent by 01 April 2022 to the conference organizers’ email: entangledmilieus@gmail.com

For part a. ‘Call for reports from the field’. The participants who actively participate in the first part of the conference will have the opportunity to share their work during the second part. Participants of the ‘report from the filed’ will be invited to present their report in form of paper, research text, art work, or video material during the second part of the conference.

For part b. ‘Call for papers’. Contrary to the call for reports, abstracts received from the ‘call for papers’ will be selected based on the thematic relevance and nature of the proposals. The contributor to call for papers does not have to participate in the first part of the conference.

The part a requires physical presence while part b will be in hybrid mode (virtual and physical).

 

Format of the conference

The conference comprises of field trips, campfires, communal kitchen (as integrative part of a communal kitchen co-organised with the participants during the meeting), roundtable discussions and presentations, exhibitions (graphic, video, sound, or VR installations), and independent film program. To add to the open character of the conference the organizers propose to assign the participants to diverse roles (speaker, commentator, animator, provocateur, arbiter, makers, cook, curator, etc). Contributions will take place in an open manner, thanks to a series of roundtables of informal exchange of ideas and concerns.

 

Conference organizers:

dr. Marc Schoonderbeek; dr. Heidi Sohn; dr. Aleksandar Staničić, dr. Armina Pilav; and dr. Socrates Stratis.