Cities Seminar: (Post)Pandemic Urbanism

In the 2020-21 ASCA Cities seminar, we will consider recent developments in urban life in the wake of the ongoing global pandemic. In taking up this theme, we are particularly interested in examining the intersections between digital technologies and contemporary urban environments, from the vantage point of creative, cultural, aesthetic and political practices.

The seminar will take stock of lived experiences in global cities today, with urban inhabitants subject to varying degrees of social-distancing restrictions, often violently enforced, and with crucial aspects of urban lives and livelihoods halted, slowed or intensified. For some, the pandemic prompted a rapid switch to ‘remote’ work, education, and leisure, accompanied by surges in digital gaming and content-on-demand consumption. Meanwhile, existing processes of urban datafication and ‘smart city’ infrastructures have been crucial to making contact tracing a viable option independent of citizen consent. With current warnings of a prevalent “pandemic shock doctrine” (Klein, 2020), how can we make sense of the ‘viral’ city and uneven distributions of risk, exposure and (im)mobility? What alternative visions are being generated for inclusive urban recovery, from the local to planetary scale? What role do digital media play in visually narrating ‘urban crisis’ and subsequent reclaiming of urban space, for instance, in public protest? And what kinds of inventive methods are being developed to address the current predicament in artistic and cultural practice?

Engaging with and expanding on such questions, the seminar seeks to analyse contemporary cities by exploring a diverse set of topics, case studies and geographical locations. We will consider, for instance, recent work on “playful digitality” and online communing in global gaming cultures (Jeursen, 2020), and digital intimacy in “platform urbanism” (Barns, 2019), amidst calls for “radical care perspectives” (Fitz/Krasny, 2019), “patchwork ethnography” (Günel et al., 2020) and a sensitivity to “our tools for urban listening” (Mattern, 2020). In doing so, we are not only responding to issues of digital urbanism in the (post)pandemic situation, but also invested in a critical re-assessment of our chosen approaches for the cultural study of cities today.

Semester 1 dates: Friday 18 September, Friday 23 October, Friday 20 November, Friday 11 December (see full programme:

Organisers: Carolyn Birdsall, Alex Gekker and Thijs Jeursen

Contact: /


Interdisciplinarity in Action – Postponed

NICA Summer School ‘Interdisciplinarity in Action’

26-27-28 August 2020 | Utrecht University | 2,5 EC

Building on the NICA Core Course ‘Radical Interdisciplinarity’ offered in the Winter Semester 2019/2020, NICA now offers an independent but complimentary Summer School 2020 programme called ‘Interdisciplinarity in Action.’ As the title implies, the Summer School focuses on the practical aspects of interdisciplinary learning, research and teaching. Situating ourselves in the field of the Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning (SoITL), we ask questions such as: What do interdisciplinary careers look like? How do we best navigate within interdisciplinary collaborations? What are suitable interdisciplinary pedagogies? What are effective teaching and learning activities for interdisciplinary classrooms? How do interdisciplinary studies foster creative and entrepreneurial mindsets?

The three-day intensive Summer School consists of talks and workshops by experts within the field. We invite participants to bring questions from their own interdisciplinary practices and reserve space, after each presentation, to work with these questions. During these working sessions, presenters are there to answer specific questions participants may have and to brainstorm about how participants think they may convert input and feedback into their own interdisciplinary work.

Confirmed guest lecturers are: Dr. Bianca Vienni Baptista (ETH Zürich) from the H2020 project “Shaping Interdisciplinary Practices in Europe” (; Dr. Merel van Goch (Utrecht University), Assistant Professor at the interdisciplinary undergraduate program Liberal Arts and Sciences; Dr. Linda de Greef (University of Amsterdam) from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (, the expertise center in the field of interdisciplinary learning and teaching; Dr. Katrine Lindvig (University of Copenhagen) from the Department of Science Education, builder of CoNavigator, a hands-on interdisciplinary collaboration & problem solving tool (; Prof. Catherine Lyall (University of Edinburgh) from Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, author of Being an Interdisciplinary Academic: How Institutions Shape University Careers (2019); and Rianne Poot, MSc (Utrecht University Centre for Entrepreneurship), Educational Advisor.

Students will be sent a set of texts by leading SoITL scholars in preparation of the Summer School by mid-June.

Application deadline: June 1, 2020. Please submit a one-page CV and a short motivation letter.

Disclaimer: Given that we are in the midst of a corona pandemic, the plans for this Summer School are subject to change.

This NICA Summer School is co-produced by the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership for Higher Education ‘Innovation in Education: Intersecting Sciences and Humanities’ (2018-1-MK01-KA203-0467117).

Museums and the circulation of knowledge

Museums and the circulation of knowledge

28 September 2020, 10.00 – 17.00

Venue: Rijksmuseum
Open to: postgraduate and research students, members of the Huizinga Institute and NICA
Credits: 1 ECTS (available upon request)
Coordination: Eve Kalyva
Maximum no. of participants: 12
Language: English
Registration: Contact Huizinga coordinator Annelien Krul (

How is knowledge accessed, structured and circulated in a museum setting? While cultural artefacts enable us discuss ideologies, political and financial power structures, gender roles and social hierarchies, we must also consider: What frameworks of interpretation become available in museums, and how are these juxtaposed and utilised in understanding different cultures?

Using the 17th century collection of the Rijksmuseum as a case study, this workshop encourages you to reflect on and evaluate how cultural objects are displayed and how different viewpoints become organised, affecting both the object and the method of study. Through on site interaction and practical exercises, we will consider:

  • How are narratives experienced in a museum setting?
  • What relationships develop across viewers, cultural objects and historical subjects; and how do cultural objects participate in their interpretation?
  • What tools can we use to extrapolate concepts and ideas from object-based study?
  • Can multiple perspectives be supported or do these always converge in relation to where we stand?

This workshop gives you the opportunity to put ideas about museums, heritage, curating and cultural analysis to the test; and engage with how institutional practices are experienced in an existing setting. It enriches your research skills with practical knowledge; and introduces you to Visible Thinking pedagogies, which support critical thinking through social interaction, direct experience and collaborative learning.

References (texts will be provided)

  • John Berger, Ways of Seeing (Penguin Books, 1972)
  • Michael Baxandall, “The Period Eye”, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style, 29–41 (Oxford University Press, 1972)
  • Roland Barthes, “Rhetoric of the Image” [1964], Image–Music–Text, pp. 32–51. Trans. Stephen Heath (Fontana, 1977)
  • Raymond Williams, “Introduction” and selected terms, Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (Croom Helm, 1976)


10.00 – 11.30 Introductory discussion

11.30 – 13.30 Practical part 1

13.30 – 14.30 Lunch break

14.30 – 16.00 Practical part 2

16.00 – 17.00 Round table discussion


Articulating belonging: translingualism, belonging and the creation of South African social collectivities

Call for papers

Articulating belonging: translingualism, belonging and the creation of South African social collectivities

University of Amsterdam and Ghent University, 12 and 13 November 2020, Amsterdam.

In the creation of nation-states during the 19th and 20th century, standardized and official languages were of key importance to develop feelings of belonging to social collectivities through the public sphere. However, contemporary global neoliberal conditions have put pressure on Romantic notions such as belonging, togetherness and culture, that used to be seen as the building blocks of national identity. Postcolonial and decolonial debates have, furthermore critiqued the presumed monolingual character of communities and nations (Yildiz 2012; Mignolo 2003) by pointing to their linguistic heterogeneity. The complex linguistic context of South Africa offers a fruitful starting point to explore the recalibrated relationships between language, the creation of social subjects, the politics of belonging and social group formation (Yuval-Davis, 2006, Meinhof and Galasinksi, 2005).

This conference wants to zoom in on translingualism and transculturality – broadly understood to refer to the fluidity and dynamism of linguistic and cultural borders – in South African literature and culture. The conference has at least three aims. Firstly, it wants to explore how narrative art forms (literature, performance poetry, cinema, theatre and so forth), but also more popular expressions (television series, newspapers, advertisements, graffiti, songs) linguistically produce, and critically reconsider the relationship between language and membership of social collectivities within the South African context. Secondly, this conference also wants to explore how language variations, multilingualism and translingualism in cultural representations index complex social and cultural entanglements in the day-to-day, ordinary lives of South Africans. Thirdly, it wants to investigate how translingualism, the use of multiple language varieties and different languages in narrative texts “destabilize” the position of dominant and/or standardized languages and what such minorizing practices (Dagnino, 2019) might imply for how language construes social subjectivity and categories of belonging in the South African context.

This call invites proposals for papers that reflect on:

  • How translingual South African literary texts create (new) social subjects and categories of belonging;
  • How popular genres (such as hiphop/rap and genre fiction) contribute to a critical analysis of the relation between language and belonging in the South African context;
  • The minorizing of (standardized) Afrikaans and English through the use of other languages and language varieties and what the destabilizing of these languages implies for belonging and the construction of social collectivities;
  • How language use functions as a form of “border work” that sustain or challenge, resist and rebel against the inclusion and exclusion created by the politics of belonging;
  • The (linguistic character of) the cultural public sphere in this process of creating belonging and togetherness in the South African context;
  • Translingualism and translation of South African literature (in any South African language) as world literature.

We invite those interested to submit a short abstract (no more than 300 words), accompanied by a biographical note (150 words) by 8 May 2020. A notice of acceptance will follow by the end of May 2020. The conference will accept contributions in Afrikaans, Dutch and English. The selected presentations should be 20 minutes. The conference organizers foresee the possibility to deliver papers by Skype in cases where travel to Amsterdam cannot be arranged. A possible publication of (selected) contributions is considered.

Please send your proposal to before 8 May 2020.

The organizing committee:

Yves T’Sjoen (UGent en UStellenbosch)
Annelies Verdoolaege (UGent)
Margriet van der Waal (UvAmsterdam)

Media | Art | Politics:  Soirées on Optimism, Failure and Care

Media | Art | Politics:  Soirées on Optimism, Failure and Care

MAP will continue this semester as a series of soirées: three reading sessions in which we will be reading, integrally, the following three books:

  • 17 February: Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism (Duke UP 2011)
  • t.b.a.: Jack Halberstam’s Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP 2011)
  • t.b.a.: Maria Puig de Bellacasa’s Matters of Care (Minnesota UP 2017).

Offering a radical reframing of the concepts of optimism, failure, and care, these books converge in that they meet the ongoing crisis of our current, transitional, moment (in both the humanities and society at large) heads on. “[T]o attend to the terms of transition is to forge imaginaries to manage the meanwhile,” Berlant writes. As such, we expect, these books to offer nothing less of a “healing reading”: a way of coping and bargaining with what is there.

Sessions will take place on Monday evenings from 17.00 till 19.00 in Lipsius 208 (Leiden University). Places are limited, registration is required. To register, please send a message with your affiliation and commitment to the organizers before the 5th of February. In order to optimally profit from our collective reading, we expect the participants to commit to be present and read the material for all three sessions. Research MA students can earn 2 ecs by participating.

The MAP Soirées on Optimism, Failure and Care are funded NICA (Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis), and LUCAS (Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society). They are organized and will be led by Pepita Hesselberth ( and Yasco Horsman (