24 May 2012

“From a Hackney Council Estate to a Kenyan Orphanage: transnational encounters and cosmopolitan youth identities?” Ruth Judge, UCL Geography

In the past, much scholarship on transnational encounters has been concerned with either relations of domination between ‘the west and the rest’, or the struggles facing forced migrants. However, work around diasporas and cosmopolitanism has opened the way for more nuanced analyses. In my PhD research, I hope to further some of these analyses through looking at new international youth volunteering initiatives. These initiatives take youth from multiethnic, low-income, urban backgrounds in the UK on volunteering trips to ‘developing’ countries. This presentation will explore how such transnational encounters bring together two groups frequently portrayed as ‘marginalised’, complicating binaries around ‘self’ and ‘other’, dominance and victimhood. It will also raise questions about how embodied and emotional dimensions of encounters with ‘other’ people and places relate to young people’s identity construction, and the possibility of ‘cosmopolitan’ identities in both local and global spheres. Such transnational encounters push us to engage with ideas about contact, identity and prejudice: Do young people’s embodied encounters with ‘others’ destabilise existing class and ethnic identities? What insights might these encounters bring to debates about ‘community cohesion’, hybridity and cosmopolitan identities? This presentation is based on the early stages of my PhD research and will draw on a review of literature, complemented by some preliminary reflections from a volunteering trip.  

“Re-enacting the city: curatorial practice as a form of architectural production.” Mariana Pestana, UCL Bartlett Architectural Design 

My practice as an architecture curator actively discusses notions of memory, identity and fiction through the making of multidisciplinary spaces.
The research that I am developing through the PhD concerns the curation of architecture as a form of architectural practice, and investigates the possibilities that this practice opens in terms of dialogue with communities and policy makers, hence in the development of the city.

I am currently working on a two day event in Croydon - in collaboration with the Council and various local cultural and educational structures – which I will present. The event explores the construction of memories after spatial experiences and the construction of space through memory. Located in a disused car park space awaiting a decision about its future use and development, the event – as a self-referential representation- is based on the blueprint of a fictional members club: The Croydon Club. At the Club, we will enact and re-enact histories of Croydon, in order to reflect upon its current state and its position towards the future.

Playing with notions of authorship and hospitality, this event will engage visitors in an immersive experience where they become, more than passive viewers, active agents in the construction of the city and its history.