Fellowships Topics

Refugees, Migration and Democracy: Reflecting Current Policies and Reshaping Politics

The previous CAS SEE Fellowship call addressed migration and refugee flows crisis by pinpointing different facets of the contentious and rather provocative relationship between migration and democracy. The influx of refugees and the ongoing debates about migration in Europe expose a larger crisis of the traditional (ethnocentric) notion of the nation and thus of the demos. This is why the resistance against refugees from – as the framing goes – “other or foreign cultures” in the EU-member states in the Eastern part of Europe is much larger and the whole debate about migration becomes a highly emotional political question that reaches deep into the fundaments of these young democracies. The assumption that migrants, once their leave the country, live their lives predominantly in one place and according to one set of national and cultural norms, no longer holds. Rather, migrants have multiple identities and senses of belonging that bridge two or more societies simultaneously and thus create a host of transnational ties. They not only work but also express their political interests in several contexts rather than in a single nation-state and are exposed to political influences from more than one country. Some even belong to religious and political movements that span the globe. We invite scholars whose research interests grasp different perspectives on these issues for recasting frameworks of “diversity politics” and “diversity discourses” in Europe. In light of recent events, we would like to challenge the crisis of multiculturalism and core European values of solidarity and human rights.

Inequalities in the city

The assumed notion of city contains multifaceted components: an institutional component related to jurisdiction issues, spatial and urban components intimately connected with city planning which are accordingly shaping and strongly affecting a cultural component, that particular state of mind called “Civicism”. Inequalities in the city rise through complex and multi-layered social relations, different lifestyles in urban settings. Bringing cross-disciplinary analysis to the study of social stratification and patterns in inequality should be a research cornerstone of the CAS SEE Fellowship topic during the autumn 2016. Project proposals coming from sociology, anthropology but also legal or cultural studies should seek to describe and investigate changes in social hierarchies and pinpoint the underlying causes, paying attention to multidimensional transformations of social classes (education, professions, wages and income, prestige, wealth, etc.); intergenerational and intragenerational mobility; and gender inequalities, as they unfold in both the private sphere (gendered division of domestic labor) and in public life (gender segregation in the workplace and the glass ceiling) in the city. Does philosophy offer an efficient tool for measuring inequality in general and could it propose an alternative method
of assessing inequalities in the city through e.g. the Dynamic Public Reflective Equilibrium? What than can be an answer to the same question of a city planner and architect who relates physical structure to the social structure of cities and investigate spatial dimensions of stratification and social inequalities? We invite projects able to tackle and address these issues in innovative and experimental way still keeping in mind paradigmatic and theoretical approaches.

We also invite applicants to submit open applications. However, the applicants submitting proposals offering possibilities of thematic synergies with above mentioned topics (or enriching them with new aspects) are preferred.

Making Inclusive Cities: Towards Participatory Governance Practices

Cities face various economic and social challenges. Since they present a major site of contemporary transformations, cities have become the main arena for detecting and exploring emerging trends of rearrangements and resetting of systems. Over the last few decades, the responsibilities of the cities for the creation of community life have increased, as well as the mobility of population and complexity of governance structures. In order to create or sustain urban ecosystem of plurality and cultural diversity, many local cultural operators and planners experiment with new participatory models of building integrated and cohesive urban communities. Answering traditional governance failures by implementing participatory and collaborative governance practices opens new avenues and possibilities for social inclusion and collective action sensitive to local issues. Although these practices heavily depend on the local context, many interpretations, versions and forms of participatory governance in culture have emerged; the common goal of most of participatory models is bringing together public, private and civil stakeholders in the participatory decision-making process and collective action.

Critical theory: Facing Violence

Critical theory has always been rife with tensions. In both its narrow and broad meaning it has always been meandering between being a theory with a powerful appeal for social change and a distinct philosophical approach aiming at developing methods, theories, and forms of explanation from standard understandings in both the natural and the social sciences. Against this background few relevant questions have to be asked: How relevant is Critical theory today? How strong is its appeal and theoretical impact? Who are the agents of new thinking along the path of Critical theory?

Horkheimers’ normative quest for a transformation of a capitalist to a more democratic society with human beings in control of all conditions of social life and with consensus at the core of a society is of high pertinence today. How to think and conceptualize the necessary transformation of the neoliberal capitalist society into a „real democracy“ where the life is „livable“ (Butler) again, presents one of the biggest challenges for Critical theory today. To put it as a question: How is the opposition against the neoliberal hegemony conceptualized from the standpoint of critical theory? What could be the answer of today’s Critical theory to the overwhelming sense of crisis and despair both in Europa and in the USA? How to reconcile the social problems deriving from the neoliberal concept of economics and society with democracy, freedom, fundamental rights, and social justice? Is the way of “democratic polarization” (Habermas) and radical democracy (Mouffe) a possible path for revitalizing the practical and normative potential of Critical theory?

If Critical theory, beyond its normative and explanatory potential, also includes a practical aspect, the question of performativity of Critical theory today comes to the fore. Can we argue that new forms of resistance in form of activism and social movements, new forms of „performative public assemblies“ (Butler) represent critical societal cells able to re-think and re-conceptualize some old premises of Critical theory and thus contribute to a new democratic and socially just normativity beyond neoliberalism?

Risky Thinking: Engagement and Action for Social Change (in Europe)

The emerging political, economic, ecological and social crises pose novel challenges to democracy. For one thing, it seems as if we are witnessing the overall disillusionment with electoral politics. Traditional instruments of representative democracy are in decline, which makes space for specific, even substitutive forms of social engagement and civic participation in the public sphere. Among them, a wide variety of social movements all over the world gather around similar concerns and, ultimately, aim at solving common problems and producing policy makers more accountable to the society.

Examples of – still active – social movements that have played important roles in shaping modern societies are the Labor Movement, the Women’s Movement, the Environmental Movement and the Peace Movement. Since the turn of the millennium, these movements have dispersed in different contexts and many of them, like the Global Justice Movement, the Arabic Spring, the Indignados and Occupy Movements, have invested significant efforts to influence societal developments. Simultaneously, new nationalist, neo-fascist and radicalized religious movements appeared. On the one hand, these movements reveal substantial social frictions and fissures in articulating discontent in daily life and giving it a political expression. On the other hand, they have also been important actors in the development of various (anti)democratic practices.

There is an urgent need to think (of) new forms of social engagement, primarily those movements that could challenge and change the existing social order in the global world today. CAS fellows should focus on different forms of social engagements, particularly on the movements in their local, national and transnational contexts. They should contribute with empirical studies or theoretical developments (or both) to the ongoing discussion on new social movements, as one of the pillars of studies of social engagement.

Cities on the Edge: Resetting the 21st Century through New Urban Agendas (Rijeka 2020)

How to design open, egalitarian, adaptable, flourishing cities of tomorrow?

The world is changing, and cities are in the forefront of global transformations still insufficiently investigated. The labour landscape is undergoing a shift into automation, precariousness and power asymmetries of “sharing economy” and underdeveloped potentials of “creative industries”. The diversity of artificial intelligences is enabling the massive expansion of data harvesting and processing capabilities offers possibilities of population control of scope as yet not known by human civilization, as well as opportunities for cognitive extensions of intriguing epistemic potentials. The overlap of the digital with the physical remaps the cities into spaces with new meaningfulnesses and survey abilities. The advent of open source bioengineering promises serious reimagining of bodies, health and physicality. The changes in the social and economic structures, from globally mobile labour force to new forms of communal living, call for rethinking of old models of housing. The unpredictable dynamics of climate change gives rise to threats of deep pressures on organizational and infrastructural capacities of cities, as well as opening up chances for geoengineering and similar environmental interventions present in our public deliberative and media landscapes only in hushed tones. The global communications are overflown with dubious or false materials manipulating street actions and patterns of political participation.

Presently, the changes appear helmed by developers, political elites incetivized for short-term thinking, corporate visionaries and accidents in the “old globalism”, with architects, philosophers and social scientists seemingly retreating into critique and conservation of political programs of 20th century. CAS fellows should address some of the following issues:

  • Radical positive programs for urban futures;
  • The use of smart cities and global communications as emancipatory directives;
  • Rethinking and reintroduction of the concept of ‘progress’ into urban politics;
  • Social change as a localist and particularist phenomenon;
  • ‘Universalisms’ in the design of new social systems;
  • Participatory democracy at the urban level – new models and designs;
  • The influence of various forms of migrations on the local and urban economy;
  • The role of architects in the coming transformations;
  • Design practices, typologies, methodologies and theories for occupying the future?