February 8, 2013
Public Space is often idealized as a site where discourse and demonstration are at least tolerated, if not celebrated. Where the ideal is harshly absent, individuals and groups seek to find alternate ways to exercise their speech rights, gain information, and enrich their practices of building community. These spaces can be tangible, such as the takeover of a privately owned park, or virtual, such as social media used in protests from Tehran to Tahrir. Reconceptualizing “public space” in the 21st century, this symposium draws on recent global events in order to identify potential shifts in the meaning of the term across temporal and geographic boundaries.
The symposium will discuss how the use of public space for political or social purposes is contested or rendered illegitimate, and how alternatives arise. How does the magnified role of social and digital media affect methods of communication and assembly? How does public space emerge in different urban, cultural, or political conditions? What is the evolving relationship between urbanism, media, and public space?
International scholars will present on topics such as:
• Urban design and rethinking public space: Examples from the Arab Spring, Iran, and beyond
• New technology and urban culture: Sentient cities and new forms of public space
• Religion, public space, and the state
• Art and media as defining and enriching public space
• Politics and protests as modes of legitimizing or delegitimizing public space
This event is sponsored by the Iran Media Program at the Annenberg School for Communication and the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. The Iran Media Program is a collaborative network designed to enhance the understanding of Iran’s media ecology. Our goal is to strengthen a global network of media scholars and practitioners working on Iran-related topics and to contribute to Iran’s civil society and the wider policy-making community by providing a more nuanced understanding of the role of media and the flow of information in Iran.