Call for contribution: The Good Life in the City

How should one live in the city? In the context of the conference, the organising team wants to approach the ‘good life in the city‘ through three theoretical aspects: (1) conflicts around the ‘good’ city, (2) social creativity and (3) subject formation. The conference will take place from 16 to 18th June 2016 at LMU Munich and will be held bilingual (English/German). Deadline for abstracts is the 20th of January 2016.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Abstracts for presentations from scholars within cultural studies, humanities, history, geography, architecture and urban planning, whose research interests pertain the ‘good’ city and the ‘good conduct of life’ in the city are invited. The organising team aim to establish a forum of exchange and hope to perpetuate collaboration on theory and concept development in the future.

How should one live in the city?
In the context of our conference, we want to approach the ‘good life in the city‘ through three theoretical aspects:

(1) conflicts around the ‘good’ city,
(2) social creativity and
(3) subject formation.

Our disciplines can draw on a rich history of research about social protests, conflicts and materialities, exclusions and chances in cities. We are interested in conflicts about the ‘good’ city. We assume that urban space includes and is made by a plurality of conflicting and overlying moral guidelines, which are understood, diversified, integrated or rejected and thereby ‘lived’ by different groups of actors in different manners. Conflicts and antagonisms about the ‘good’ city, for instance, are observable in the discourse about sustainable local economies, environmentalism and “green” tidiness. Who are the actors included in these discourses? Which moral and ethical criteria do actors apply to describe, negotiate and locate urban life? And which tensions, controversies and crises evolve from these competing and interfering guidelines?

By contrast to the long-established idea of the creative city as a question of branding to increase the marketing value of a city in their competition for ‘good’, creative and entrepreneurial citizens, we understand social creativity as concepts and practices that city dwellers envision, create and live as alternative models of city life. Negotiating different, supplementary or antagonistic (daily) practices produces new norms, values, relations and spaces. These practices and projects cause new structures and patterns of urban co-habitation to emerge. Which forms of cooperation and collaboration do actors utilize as assets in the negotiation process? What possible forms of dissent opposed to normative guidelines become visible and which conflicts are provoked accordingly? How are socially creative norms and values expressed in the production and appropriation of physical spaces?

Besides social creativity, that rather seeks to describe a revolutionary resistance in daily life, we furthermore want to explore the mechanisms of the everyday and techniques of governing, which create the ideal urban citizen. These subject formations can relate to new trends like the active, self-responsible and ethicized individual that accepts responsibility through a rhetoric of participation and more individual responsibility, often replacing formerly governmental and communal tasks. Also other ideals of being a ‘good’ urban citizen such as ideals of the modern, national or cosmopolitan subject are of interest. How do examples and models become general guidelines and constraints of action? Which mechanisms of disciplining and self-disciplining apply and which role does the materiality of the city play in that?

The conference will take place from 16.-18.06.16 at LMU Munich and will be held bilingual (English/German). In addition to the classical presentation format, a session where the participants can exchange experiences and ideas on methodology and methods will be organized.

Compensation for travel expenses for attendants is available on a limited basis.

We welcome contributions for presentations (20-30 minutes) in English or German. Please submit an abstract (200-300 words) and two sentences about yourself by 20.01.16

E-Mail address for abstract submission and contact:


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