Cultural Perceptions of Safety

On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd of January 2021 the Humanities Department of the Open University of the Netherlands organizes the international conference ‘Cultural perceptions of safety’. The conference will be held in Utrecht, at the Academiegebouw, and is supported by the Huizinga Institute (Research Institute and Graduate School of Cultural History).

Questions of safety are at the foreground of many societal and spatial issues. Nowadays as well as in the past, the longing for safety is an important driving force for people and political and religious regimes. The pursuit of safety is often used to legitimize political action and social interventions. Therefore, it is important to reflect on how we define, experience and represent safety. In our modern day and age, according to statistics on crime, hunger, illness or death most parts of the world appear to be safer than ever before. However, the information age we live in brings us daily news of ecological catastrophes, drug crimes, epidemics, terrorism and trade wars, which influences our sense of safety significantly. Feelings of safety are thus connected to much more than measurable numbers alone. Changing experiences of safety over time are influenced by social, political, environmental and personal factors and need to be seen in a broader context to fully grasp its impact.

During this conference cultural perception of safety will be put at the foreground to focus on questions such as: When do feelings of safety and unsafety emerge? How is safety and unsafety portrayed and imagined in literary works, artworks, architecture and media? Do modern representations of safety and unsafety differ from those in earlier times? And how have safety practices been generated, implemented or used by people in policymaking and constructions of society?

The conference ‘Cultural perceptions of safety’ brings together scholars from various humanities disciplines in order to stimulate an interdisciplinary reflection on and contribute to our cultural understanding of the experience of safety and its larger societal impact.

Keynote speakers:

Prof. dr. Nils Büttner

Nils Büttner is a professor ordinarius of Art History at the State Academy of Arts Stuttgart and member of the Centrum Rubenianum vzw. He specialises in the visual culture of Germany and the Netherlands from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. He has published monographs on Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer, as well as a History of landscape painting and books on the history of drawings and prints. He has also written numerous catalogue essays and has served as a curator for several museum exhibitions.

 

Prof. dr. Eddo Evink

Eddo Evink is Professor in Philosophy at the Open University in the Netherlands and Assistant Professor in History of Modern Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. His main areas of research contain phenomenology, hermeneutics, metaphysics, philosophy of the humanities and philosophy of art. He recently published Transcendence and Inscription. Jacques Derrida on Metaphysics, Ethics and Religion, Nordhausen: Traugott Bautz, 2019.

 

Prof. dr. Beatrice de Graaf (provisionally confirmed)

Beatrice de Graaf is professor of History of International Relations and Global Governance at the University of Utrecht. Her research focuses on how states and societies try to maintain high levels of security and how these attempts relate to core values and institutions (democracy, freedom, rule of law, constitutional and responsible government). She studies the emergence of and threats to such security arrangements from the 19th century until the present, including in times where both the effectiveness and the legitimacy of these arrangements were at risk. She currently leads the “Securing Europe” (SECURE) project, funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant.

 

Dr. Debra Benita Shaw

Debra Benita Shaw is a Reader in Cultural Theory at the University of East London where she teaches Architecture and Photography. She is a critical posthumanist concerned with issues of gender, social structures and the politics of space and has published widely in the fields of cultural and urban theory, science and technology studies and science fiction criticism. She is the author of Posthuman Urbanism: Mapping Bodies in Contemporary City Space (2018) and is the co-editor of Radical Space: Exploring Politics and Practice (2016). She is a founding member of the Centre for Cultural Studies Research at UEL and principal editor of the Radical Cultural Studies book series for Rowman & Littlefield International.

 

https://www.ou.nl/web/cultural-perceptions-of-safety