Annual RC21 Conference 2011

The struggle to belong. Dealing with diversity in 21st century urban settings
Amsterdam (The Netherlands), July 7-9 2011

Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research – Urban Studies
University of Amsterdam – The Netherlands

21. Ethnographic Interventions

This session seeks to explore what ethnography can add to urban studies. Ethnography can provide fresh perspectives on urban issues and help question what is often taken for granted in urban studies. We can, for example, think of studies of public space. Rather than assume the existence of an already known and implicitly homogeneous public space, we might explore what different kinds of public spaces exist, how they are produced as social spaces, what rules they are seen as entailing, and how they entitle some and disenfranchise others. In addition, has the public quality of public space changed, as many analyses of neoliberal urbanism would have it, and if so, how and with what consequences? City ethnographies might also produce a necessary corrective to research on (ethnic) diversity. Such research often takes categories such as ethnicity, religion, class or nationality as its starting point without taking the reflexive, dynamic and contested nature of these categories into account. Rather than assuming the existence of diversity, ethnographic research can explore the ongoing everyday construction of (ethnic) difference and diversity in public space. More generally, ethnography enables us to study lived realities not captured by more quantitative or macro level studies. It can, for example, help us understand when, why and by whom urban social life is experienced as comfortable and safe, or threatening and conflict-ridden, and how such senses of safety and danger impact people’s daily routines and urban trajectories.
This session invites papers that deal with the ways in which ethnographies of the city challenge or intervene in urban studies debates. On what topics can urban ethnography shed new light? What fresh perspectives can an ethnographic methodology bring to the urban condition?

Session organizer:
Anouk de Koning, Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam

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21 December 2011
Deadline for abstract submission

10 January 2011
Notification of selected abstracts

1 March 2011
Registration open

15 May 2011
Deadline for early bird registration and for (some) hotel options

15 May 2011
Deadline for paper submission

15 June 2011
Papers online

7-9 July 2011