SPACES OF LIBERATION
Spaces of Liberation is a research collaboration initiative that involves research centres and institutions from Europe, North America and the Middle East and aims to study, investigate and analyse the changing socio-spatial practices and dynamics of urban squares in the contemporary city in light of the extensive revolts and protests that not only emerged in the Arab cities of Cairo, Tunis and Sana’a and Damascus during the Arab Spring but also appeared in Madrid, Athens, and Rome in addition to the riots in England over the summer of 2011.
Spaces of Liberation team leads and supports research projects and collaboration of inter-disciplinary nature that involving research subjects and topics in Urban Studies, Architecture, Social Sciences, Political sciences, Psychology, Media Studies. This research endeavour helps to define new forms of urban space that no longer represent the mere venue of social-political sphere, but become the venue for everyday democratic practices of liberty, spatial & virtual communications, cultural exchange and negotiation of ideology and political position. It tries to monitor the negotiation between liberal values and public views from one side and the traditional democratic/ none-democratic state institutions.
Studies connected to Spaces of Liberation include, funded research projects, PGR/ PhD Degrees, and MSc in Urban Studies, Architecture, Specialist seminars, Workshops and training programmes.
Prof. Nezar AlSayyad Lecture @ Queen’s University
Our Project Followers can now watch our “Spaces of Liberation” Guest Lecture – 2015 of Prof. Nezar AlSayyad, on May 6th at Queen’s University Belfast.
The lecture was introduced by Professor Trevor Whittaker, the Head of School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering @Queen’s
Public Lecture: 6th May 2015
Public Lecture: Professor Nezar AlSayyad -“Virtual Uprisings”
Title: “VIRTUAL UPRISINGS: Tahrir Square, Social Media and the return of Public Space”
Speaker: Professor Nezar AlSayyad, the University of California at Berkeley
Venue: Canada Room, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast
Time: Wednesday: 6th MAY 2015, 2.30-4.00pm
The School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPACE) and Spaces of Liberation Project at Queen’s University Belfast would like to invite you to the public talk of Professor Nezar AlSayyad at the Canada Room, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University Belfast on WEDNESADY 6th MAY 2015, 2.30-4.00pm. Professor Nezar AlSayyad is a distinguished Professor of Architecture, Planning and Urban History at the University of California at Berkeley. He is the Chair of UC-Berkeley’s Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Former Head of International and Area Studies Graduate Programme, the co-founder and president of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments.
Professor AlSayyad is the Editor of the highly acclaimed Journal of Traditional Dwellings and Settlement Review. He recieved several high profile awards including Guggenheim Fellowship (2014) and UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2008). He is the author and editor of over 15 books and two documentaries, including: “Traditions: The ‘Real’, the Hyper and the Virtual in the Built Environment” (2014), “Cairo: Histories of a City” (2011), “The Fundamentalist City?” (2010), “Cinematic Urbanism” (2006), “Making Cairo Medieval” (2005), “The End of Tradition” (2003), “Urban Informality” (2003), Muslim Europe or Euro-Islam” (2002), “Consuming Tradition, Manufacturing Heritage” (2001), and “Hybrid Urbanism” (2000).
Professor AlSayyad’s talk is titled: “VIRTUAL UPRISINGS: Tahrir Square, Social Media and the return of Public Space”. He will share his views on the practices and dynamics of social movements in public space over the past few years including latest developments on the protests in Hong Kong and the US and the political unrest in the Middle East, the rise of Islamist ideology of insurgency and the manner with which public space is accustomed to aprofound and radical change in the Twenty First century.
The talk is hosted by “Spaces of Liberation” Project based at The School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPACE) and Co-sponsored by Architecture and Construction Management Research Cluster (ACM), Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning (ISEP), and the Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities (ICRH).
Attendance is Free and open to public audience. For inquiries, please do contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
24 October 2014
Spaces of Liberation project team organize a Panel at: The Second Contemporary Architecture & Urbanism in the Mediterranean & the Middle East Conference (CAUMME) II 2014. CAUMME II, Architectural and Urban Research, Education, and Practice in an Era of ‘Post-Professionalism,’ is an international symposium organized by Girne American University – Cyprus, Yıldız Technical University – Turkey, and Qatar University – Qatar.
Panel Title: “Dynamics of Change in Contemporary Middle Eastern cities”
Panel Chair: Dr. Gehan Selim & Dr. Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem
Paper 1: Revolting Arts or Spatial Democracy: Performances of popular arts during the Egyptian Revolution
Bassma Abou El Fadl, IMT-Lucca, Italy; and Dr Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem, Queen’s University Belfast, UK
Paper 2: Sites of Anger and Change in Egypt: An analysis of the geography of a revolution
Prof Galila El Kadi, Institut de recherche pour le développement IRD, France
Paper 3: Cultural Encounters in the Contemporary Moroccan Medinas: From Courtyards to the Public Squares
Dr Magda Sibley, University of Manchester, UK
Paper 4: It Counts for More than It Is: Rethinking ‘Urban Built Heritage’ through a Discussion of the Local Identity
Sahar Khoshnood, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
5 September 2014
Call for Research Visit: The British Council- Travel Grant
Spaces of Liberation project team @ Queen’s University Belfast invites interested young researchers in Egypt and Turkey, who wish to spend 3-6 months research visit at Queen’s University to take part in joint application for the British Council’s Travel grant 2014.
Details of the call and eligibility criteria in the call web-link below. details of our research themes are displayed on this page (see the Project page).
Deadline for application is: 30 September 2014; the research visit must take place before March 2016.
For further inquiries, do contact us on: email@example.com.
For the call details, see: http://www.britishcouncil.org/education/science/current-opportunities/travel-grants-2014
21 August 2014
Spaces of Liberation Organizes a special Panel at the World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
Panel 301: The Politics of Dissidence in Middle Eastern Urban Space
Chair: Dr Gehan Selim, Queens University Belfast, UK
The Public Square played a central role in shaping the urban experience of the modern city. Our spontaneous and traditional mental perceptions about the physicality of the urban square had dramatically shifted following the recent events of the Arab spring in the Middle East adding new narratives linked to democracy and liberalisation. During these events, citizens were able to express, practice and utilise a new patterns of democracy performance through various medias; protesting, marching, gathering.. etc. The occupation of the public square represented an evident self-confidence and assurance of a new subjectivity that grants its citizens the right to the city and its spaces. Also, the diversity of each uprising has had its unique dynamics and characteristics. These processes and patterns have yet to be empirically and systematically investigated. The undercurrents of such shifts offer multiple opportunities for empirical investigations on the way social practices and public performances have reshaped and reproduced new spatial meanings to the public spaces as historical and future venues that reflects democracy and liberation.
This session aims to interrogate the spatial practices and narratives that accompanied the Arab spring activities in a quest to analyse the mechanism, strategies and socio-cultural infrastructures that informed and linked these acts with the urban space and its political sphere. Attention will be given to papers that include a comparative dimension to provide insights into analytical and theoretical concerns of how these spaces were occupied and memorised, and whether or not it qualifies for introducing new dimensions of spatiality and temporality. How far the governments are tending to open/ block these spaces to prevent any associated spatial practices in the future? And finally, what are the emerging typologies or stereotypes that informs reshaping these spaces in cities under revolutions?
“The Means and Ends of the Grounds for Rebellion”, Prof Aysegul Baykan – Yildiz Technical University, Turkey
“Displacement of Power: The reproduction of public space in post-2011 Arab City”, Dr Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem, – Queen’s University Belfast, UK
“Visualizing Spatial (In)Justice in Middle Eastern Cities”, Dr Ipek Türeli, Assistant Professor, McGill University, USA
“Participants and conscripts in Egypt’s urban spaces”, Mr Mohamed Elshahed – New York University, USA
For further information on the Panel and abstract, visit our blog.
6 March 2014
Seminar with Dr. Gehan Selim at the University of Tokyo, Japan
Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo, Japan
Spaces of Liberation’s Lead Researcher, Dr Gehan Selim gave a talk at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo where she delivered a seminar on ‘Spatial Practices of Revolt: Square-state relations during the Arab Spring protests’ chaired by Professor Nagasawa and followed by a session of discussions and debate. For further info., read our blog HERE.
For further information on the seminar in Japanese, visit the Institute’s website:
Follow us for our series of SPECIAL PANELS and CALLS FOR PAPERS for 2014. This website will be updated with further calls on weekly basis.
15 January 2014 Call for Papers: Special Panel
Contemporary Architecture & Urbanism in the Mediterranean & the Middle East [CAUMMEII 2014]
23-25 October 2014; Girne, Cyprus
Abstract Submission Deadline: Sunday 16 February 2014
The Spaces of Liberation Project Team organizes Special Panel a the Second Conference of CAUMME II . The Panel is Chaired by Dr. Gehan Selim and Dr. Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem. Please refer to the details of the Panel Call on our Blog (below) or the Conference website and Special panel page; HERE.
Abstracts are welcome from specialist theorists, researchers, artists, and practitioners to interrogate, analyse and discuss practices of liberation in the Middle Eastern cities, societies and culture as they emerged in the public space in the twenty first century. All abstracts should be submitted to the Panel Chair Dr. Gehan Selim: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave your comments and suggestions on our Contact Us page, or the Blog page and we will get in touch.
[wptabs style=”wpui-light” mode=”horizontal” rotate=”300″]
[wptabtitle] Conference[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]You are cordially invited to attend the first “Spaces of Liberation” conference at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at University of California, Berkeley on 12th September 2013. This conference is co-organised and sponsored by the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and Queen’s University Belfast.[/wptabcontent]
[wptabtitle] Report [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]
Spaces of Liberation’s Conference Report
The Changing Socio-political Culture of the Urban Space in the Middle East
Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem
In his afterward notes to Diane Singerman and Paul Amar’s seminal manuscript, Cairo Cosmopolitan (AUC Press, 2006), Nezar AlSayyad, the notable urban historian, set an intriguing question, ‘Why is Egypt unable to develop a new political culture and spatial manifestations that reach beyond the slogans of traditionalism, religious revivalism and anti-modernity?’ If the events of the past three years in Egypt would prove anything, it would confirm that Egyptians are persistent to change their political culture and to break with the traditional binary power-house, the military state and the anti-modern religious autocracy.
………. Read the full Conference Report on the Blog page. ”.
[wptabtitle] Seminar[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent] Research Seminar,
27th NOV. 2013, 14:00 – 16:00, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy
Project Researcher, Bassma Reda Abu El-Fadl will present a paper and a poster at the IMT-Lucca Annual Seminar. The paper is titled: “A Performative Space: Socio-Spatial Practices in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution”
The talk will report on a 2 years research investigations in everyday narratives of the Egyptian revolution. It attempts to response to a principal question; “Did spatial practices and Acts of resistance result in the re-conceptualization of Tahrir Square as urban space during the 18 days of Egyptian Revolution?” [/wptabs]
This strand investigates the evolution of mass protests in urban squares as a spatial practice of democracy that is largely missing in the formal political processes in the Middle East. It underlines aspects and processes of revolt, symbolism and socio-political settings of the revolting Squares with the aim to understand the spatial consequences behind the mass actions, mobilisation and assembly for long time.
Square-State and Everyday Life[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]This strand deals with the analysis of everyday patterns of communications and interactions (physically & virtually) performed by the mass protests in the Urban Square during long-term revolts, as a mean of establishing a parallel state and its complex system of living in the Urban Square.
The Future of the Liberal City[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]This strand looks at the implications frequent mass demonstrations, gatherings in the contemporary metropolis have on the future scenarios of city planning and urban design on both the short and long term. It underlines the challenges that face security, traffic, services, accessibility and the management of the urban space at times, when mass protests or gatherings are in action.
The making of Tahrir Square[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]As Tahrir Square has become the phenomenon & a symbol of uprising against the state power worldwide, this strand looks at what makes an ordinary square a Tahrir Square, a space where the populace feel free to liberate themselves from the imposed state system and voice their freedom. It tries to investigate the physical, spatial and symbolic characteristics of spaces that attract public protests and the manner with which the state’s security respond to them.