Alexandra Bitušíková

Masaryk University, Faculty

of Social Studies, Brno, Czech

Republic, November 30 – Decemeber 1, 2007

The Faculty of Social Sciences of Masaryk University in Brno organized

a multidisciplinary conference, The City – a Changeable (Un)Certainty (Nov. 30 –

Dec. 1, 2007). The goal of the conference was to open a forum for discussion on the

meaning of the contemporary city and its various definitions. What is the city?

How is it reflected by various disciplines? What impact does the (post-socialist,

post-modernist) transformation of the city have on (in)equality, solidarity, social

cohesion, inclusion/exclusion, and local/urban identities? How are the boundaries,

public and private spaces, physical and social structure of the city created?

These questions were in the core of the conference discussions.

The conference attracted the attention of sociologists, human geographers

and environmentalists, social anthropologists and ethnologists, philosophers,

architects, social psychologists, and also several representatives of municipalities

and non-governmental organizations. The diverse structure of the participants

created a very good basis for a fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue, but also a dialogue

between academics and practitioners. It seems that it is easier to present

and publish nice academic ideas and perspectives on how urban problems can be

solved than to implement them into practice. For this reason, without a dialogue

of both parties no progress in the cities can be made. That is an important lesson

from the conference. Urban scientists should work closely with local actors

at all levels of governance. It is useful for both sides, and in the end it is useful for

the citizens of each city. The program of the conference was

thematically structured. It was opened by introductory words of Prof. H. Librová of

the Department of Environmental Studies, followed by blocs of lectures focused

on different aspects of urban development and change. The first day was dedicated

mostly to the topics of urban spaces and their integration and/or differentiation

as seen from the angle of different disciplines (L.Galčanová, S. Poláková,

L. Sýkora, D. Luther, J. Pospíšilová – A. Steinhübel, J. Janto, J. Sládek); urban

diversity (A. Bitušíková); and psychological reflections and effects of the city

(T. Řiháček, M. Koťová). Sustainability of city development in its broader perspective

was stressed several times. This concept is still understood more in

its environmental meaning in the Central-European region. The conference

brought a wider view of the sustainable city, emphasizing the importance of an

urban environment that creates conditions for friendly cohabitation of diverse

cultural and social groups and encourages social integration leading to better

life for all urban citizens. The second day was opened by an

inspiring keynote address given by Prof. M. Marcelli on the philosophic topic of

urbanophobia. Marcelli built his presentation on numerous writings of philosophers

(both unbanophiles and urbanophobes)

dealing with the city, with the main focus on Rousseau. Rousseau

was probably the most famous critic of the city, describing it as a place of

moral decadence. Marcelli pointed out some paradoxes of this approach and

talked about an open city and even about the “urban” universal fluid which is neither

the city nor the countryside, but the countryside within the city and the main

channel of communication processes. Marcelli´s presentation was followed by

blocs of lectures given by architects and art historians (T. Vích, M. Topolčanská

and M. Horáček); and human geographers, environmentalists and sociologists

(J. Novák, A. Burjanek, O. Mulíček, P. Pospěch, B. Vacková and L. Šolcová).

Urban space, locality and society were the key words linking most of the presentations

of the Saturday program. The City – a Changeable (Un)Certainty

conference brought fresh air to the debates about the city, mainly because

it made various disciplines talk to each other. It is obvious that interdisciplinary

dialogue is a challenge. We often tend to see “our” disciplinary view or methodology

as a better one or more appropriate, but only by listening to other disciplines

can we learn, broaden our understanding of the topic and overcome our “disciplinecentrism.”

The conference was organized by young scientists and it was very

encouraging to see many young researchers in the audience, too. The future of

urban research is in good hands.

Alexandra Bitušíková

Poslední změna: 25. červenec 2018 11:34 
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