Keynote Lectures

Monday, June 22nd

Mieke Bal (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis)

Thinking in Film 

In addition to presenting stories and situations, cinema stages thought. Therefore, watching films can help us think ourselves: about the world, about what art, its genres and media can do in and for it, and about the culture we belong to and that belongs to us, its citizens. The opening sequence of our film Madame B (Mieke Bal & Michelle Williams Gamaker, Cinema Suitcase 2014) posits ruin, by means of Emma’s wandering in an empty field and ruined house. This ruin is the present state; what follows will get us back there, in a circular movement that turns out a vicious circle. This stands for the vicious circle of the current “neoliberal” culture. Thus the opening credit sequence already foretells the mode of story-telling: based on circularity, repetition and an undermining of the narrative movement forwards. The project attempts to turn intermediality, or intermedial translation, away from the flat issue of fidelity into another, more medium-based form of loyalty.

In school, Emma (played by Marja Skaffari, Finland) dreams away during classes about reality, but is the best student in the singing class, and as we discover later in a memory sequence, she takes extra-curricular lessons in art and deportment, for elegance. In other words, she is talented, and her teachers try to help her, but she lack commitment to the present, the world, and social reality. For, that present, and its world, have nothing to offer her. How does audio-visuality help us understand and, in sym-pathy, feel what kind of culture asks us to be citizens of it? For this we staged particular kinds of looks: looks carrying affective engagement and societal judgments, in order for viewers to realise where each of us stands, in that messy mixture of complicity and critique.



Tuesday, June 23rd

Marita Sturken (New York University)

When Nations Remember: Memory Tourism at the 9/11 Memorial/Museum in New York

The 9/11 Memorial, which opened in 2011, and the 9/11 Museum, opened in 2014, have become enormously popular tourist destinations in New York City, drawing millions of visitors each year. They are sites through which the primary national narratives of 9/11 are constructed, and through which the shocking material transformation of 9/11 is mediated—through preservation, re-creation, and fetishization, and through narratives of absence, presence, and remains.   The memorial deploys design tropes of absence and voids in its two enormous pools, and the museum is a project of many contradictions in its varied roles as an historical museum, a tribute and shrine to the memory of those who died, a tourist destination, a political and patriotic nationalist project, and the repository of unidentified remains. In this talk, I look at the how the cultural memory of 9/11 is negotiated at the memorial and museum through national narratives, architectural design, material remains, and souvenirs.

Karl Erik Schøllhammer (Pontíficia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro)

Forensic strategies against the traumatic condition of culture – exposure of wounded bodies in Brazilian media and art

Images of dead or wounded bodies are submitted a cultural taboo and at the same time strong attractors for visual attention. This paper will discuss this ambivalence as a key to understand the relation between body and image in contemporary visual culture. In recent Brazilian history reappropriated media images of victims to social violence contained a subversive revelation of the systematic political repressive violence of torture and assassinations systematically concealed by the authorities. In works of the visual artist Rosangela Rennô the exposed body carries the tension between a generalized traumatic “wound culture” and what will be defined as a forensic paradigm to images of memory and death. The ambiguity between images that touches the spectator and images that hurts him is explored in works that put a critical distance to the traumatic condition avoiding the shortcuts to its aesthetic effects of shock and horror.


Wednesday, June 24th

Igor Štiks (University of Edinburgh)

Citizenship: Art and Politics

No work of art exists outside polis or outside politics. However, politics of every work of art is different insofar as it corresponds to various forms of politeia understood as citizenship or as citizen’s active participation in the affairs of the city (polis). To understand why politics of each work of art is different we should turn now to different forms or manifestations of citizenship. How art fits into active and activist citizenship, and how it relates to citizenship as protest, critique and emancipation? What would be citizenship, politics and, finally, art that not only emancipate us from our predicament, but also emancipate us for what I would call a new politeia?

Paulo Soeiro Carvalho (Lisbon City Hall)

The Role of Creativity and Creative Activities in Lisbon’s Innovation Strategy

The Creative Economy sector is currently one of the most dynamic and endowed with more growth potential in the city of Lisbon. The Lisbon region is the most creative in Portugal, with its almost 24.500 companies being responsible for 47% of the employment rate and 63% of the GVA (Gross Value Added) of the creative sector, making this one of the key elements of the region’s economy, not only for its vitality and profusion, but also for its intrinsic value and multiplicative capacities.

The establishment of creative activities in Lisbon as a relevant cluster for urban competitiveness emerges as a natural consequence of the city’s dynamic and the actions of its main agents, fostering creativity as one of the privileged means for the national and international recognition of the city and its surrounding area, while also impacting its economic dynamics.

The Lisbon Municipality has been working actively towards the positioning of the city and region of Lisbon as a benchmark regarding the implementation of municipal policies that encourage the development of entrepreneurship in general and the Creative Economy cluster in particular. In this context, we should highlight the efforts of rehabilitation of the most degraded areas of the city through new usages, with the purpose of meeting the demands of young creative entrepreneurs who seek them as elected spaces for their workplaces: the renovation of the Forno do Tijolo Market, which now lodges FabLab Lisboa; the business incubator Start Up Lisboa, located in rehabilitated buildings in the downtown area; or the planned rehabilitation of the Palace Sinel de Cordes, where a new creative cluster has been taking shape with projects focused on architecture.

Also significant for the strategy of consolidation of the creative cluster in Lisbon are initiatives such as participation in international projects (Cross Innovation, WeTraders), supporting events around creativity (Creative Hubs Forum 2015, European CoWorking Conference 2014, Festival IN, Eurobest Festival, Lisbon’s Architecture Triennial or Lisbon’s Fashion Week are some of the most recent examples) or the creation of Lisbon’s Film Commission, with an important role in stimulating filming in the city.

Finally, the recent inauguration of Lisbon’s first Creative Incubator, “Mouraria Creative Hub”, is expected to become one more stimulus to creative entrepreneurship in this part of town.


Friday, June 25th

Luisa Leal de Faria (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)

Water Lilies May Grow Roots: From Discontent in Civilization to Banal Cosmopolitanism

Taking Mohsin Hamid’s book of essays Discontent and Its Civilizations as a point of departure, this presentation examines the relation between civilization and discontent in an era of displacement and mobility, and how cosmopolitanism may provide new and creative answers to contemporary problems of citizenship. The Western ideas of cosmopolitanism, citizenship and hospitality are examined, from Kant’s propositions in the text on perpetual peace, Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the decline of the nation state and the end of the rights of man, to Derrida’s propositions on cosmopolitanism and hospitality, at the end of the 20th century. A new form of cultural citizenship in the 21st century, which takes a decidedly cosmopolitan outlook, valuing difference and the creative power of hybridity, may already be present in literary productions such as those of Mohsin Hamid, which are briefly examined as demonstration of the arguments presented. At the time Ulrich Beck called second modernity, cosmopolitanism is becoming banal.

Hans Bertens (University of Utrecht)

Multicultural Citizenship

Cultural or, as the case may be, multicultural citizenship, when properly exercised, performed, put into practice, and so on, presupposes what one might call cultural literacy, that is, the ability to ‘read’ culture, an ability based on a thorough understanding of culture’s constructedness and its often multi-level symbolic significance. But how do we acquire that ability? How do we learn to ‘read’ the seemingly infinite and infinitely diverse manifestations of culture?

In the past half century the study of culture, which found itself in an academic backwater in spite of classics such as Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904), Johan Huizinga’s Autumn of the Middle Ages (1919), G.M. Young’s Victorian England (1936), or Perry Miller’s The New England Mind (1939), has made an astonishing comeback. Historians, sociologists, and, more recently, economists, have come to regard the various rational choice theories (all of them assuming that human behavior is based on rational considerations) that used to guide their hypotheses with at least some degree of suspicion. As a result, they have increasingly made room for culturally based value-systems in their analyses of decision-making processes. Although it took them a while to get there – with the exception of Edward Thompson who published his seminal The Making of the English Working Class in 1963 – cultural historians have now also come to include popular culture and what one might call cultural micro-history among their range of interests.

Interestingly, it is with popular culture and in particular its written manifestations that the interest of literary scholars in culture had started. In 1958 Richard Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy mapped and analyzed the magazines that Thompson’s English working class read and although Hoggart and his colleagues at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in Birmingham initially saw themselves as operating within a broadly conceived social studies, cultural studies soon came to be seen as an offshoot of literary studies and flourished in departments of literature even when it took on board sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu and historians such as Michel Foucault.

And then there is intellectual history. In his recent Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism (2014) the intellectual historian Larry Siedentop argues that the West’s insistence on individual freedom and on the inalienable rights of the individual has developed over a period of two thousand years, laying a unique foundation of specific individual values under all of Western civilization, including Western culture. Does cultural citizenship require an awareness of such arguments? Are they, for that matter, compatible with multicultural citizenship?

I am not sure there are any definitive answers to these and other questions, but we can at least examine them more closely.


Saturday, June 26th

Tisa Ho (Hong Kong Arts Festival)

A city-based festival – more than mere location

Like many festivals around the world, the annual Hong Kong Arts Festival, now in its fourth decade, carries the name of the city in which it is located. It presents international as well as local and regional artists, embraces both classic and contemporary works; and attracts strong audience support, selling over 95% of all tickets for about 130 performances each year. What is its relationship with the city whose name it carries? What role does it aspire to play as a citizen? What is its value to the city?

Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins (National Centre for the Promotion of Culture / Chief Justice Court of Accounts)

Culture, Human Development and Mundialization

Today, as much as in any other era, culture cannot be confined to the notion of an educated life. When the classical thinkers reflected upon the concepts of paideia or humanitas, they embraced a broad view of life which articulated the creation and transmission of values with education and science. The great humanists were able to connect ideas and the arts, knowledge and understanding of the world, tradition and innovation, heritage and memory. Human development has to do with experience, models, critical thinking and learning. Freedom and responsibility are the cornerstones of an open society. Hence the significance of differences, pluralism and complementarities. However, even more important than the random combination of differences is ensuring the relationship and dialogue between cultures – as a way of understanding values and their hierarchy within a common movement of progress. Mundialization should, thus, preserve differences as a way of understanding the other and as a means of mutual enrichment – in the context of equal freedom and free equality.