Please join us for the upcoming event organised by the research project Urban Futures: Imagining and Activating Possibilities in Unsettled Times.
September 23, 2022, 10:00 AM Europe/Ljubljana (CEST)
or live at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Primorska, Koper/Capodistria, Slovenia.
Why Public Space Matters?
This presentation on “Why Public Space Matters” examines how public space contributes to individual and societal flourishing. Based on thirty-five years of ethnographic fieldwork on plazas, walkways, parks, markets, and beaches in the United States, Costa Rica, Argentina, India, Kenya, and France, it presents a new understanding of the role of social contact, public culture, and affective atmosphere in the creation of places essential to everyday urban life. This multimethod inquiry emphasizes the importance of public space to social justice and democratic practices sustained through people’s experience of representation, recognition of difference, inclusion, and care, as well as opportunities for contestation and resistance. Case-studies demonstrate how public space provides a context for the socialization of children and improves physical and mental well-being by encouraging walking and sports as well as access to natural landscapes. Sidewalks, parks, and plazas offer business opportunities through public markets and informal selling, and locations for festivals and celebrations that promote a sense of belonging and place attachment as well as transmit cultural practices. Parks, urban gardens, and waterways construct sustainable greenways for water retention and wildlife and improve ecosystem services. During disasters, public spaces become locations of social solidarity and support. This talk aims to realign urban priorities by highlighting the importance of public space for socially just cities and encouraging local activism.
SETHA LOW began her career in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently a Distinguished Professor of Environmental Psychology, Geography, and Anthropology, and Director of the Public Space Research Group at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She received a Getty Fellowship, an NEH Award, a Fulbright Senior Research Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship for public space research in Latin America and the U.S. Recent books include Why Public Space Matters (2023), Spatializing Culture (2017), Anthropology and the City (2019), and Spaces of Security with M. Maguire (2019).