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Post-Pandemic Imaginaries Space, Culture and Memory after Lockdown

05. Sep­tem­ber – 06. Sep­tem­ber 2024 

Cen­tre for Cul­ture and Every­day Life at the School of the Arts, Uni­ver­si­ty of Liv­er­pool, UK

„Post-Pan­dem­ic Imag­i­nar­ies Space, Cul­ture and Mem­o­ry after Lockdown”
5–6th September
Cen­tre for Cul­ture and Every­day Life at the School of the Arts, Uni­ver­si­ty of Liv­er­pool, UK
Keynote speak­ers: Stef Craps (Ghent Uni­ver­si­ty), Dawn Lyon (Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent)
Cfp dead­line 10 May

The Cen­tre for Cul­ture and Every­day Life (CCEL) invites con­tri­bu­tions to a two-day inter­dis­ci­pli­nary con­fer­ence explor­ing changes in the expe­ri­ence and imag­in­ing of every­day urban spaces fol­low­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. The aim of the con­fer­ence is to focus crit­i­cal atten­tion not on the impact of the pan­dem­ic and asso­ci­at­ed gov­ern­ment lock­downs, but on the process­es of reimag­in­ing, remem­ber­ing and remap­ping of every­day cul­ture and expe­ri­ence through a post-pan­dem­ic lens.
A key focus of enquiry are the real-and-imag­i­nary geo­gra­phies of every­day expe­ri­ences under lock­down where the imag­i­na­tion was put to work in ways that often elicit­ed het­ero­topic glimpses of a post-pan­dem­ic world that may, in the years since, have all but slipped into obliv­ion. Dur­ing lock­down, the ‘spa­tial play’ (Marin 1984) of the utopic imag­i­na­tion – the inter­play of hori­zons and fron­tiers as nego­ti­at­ed through forms of every­day social and spa­tial prac­tice – was gal­vanised by a col­lec­tive expe­ri­ence of space and time that trans­formed the affec­tive con­tours of every­day liv­ing. As phys­i­cal move­ments and inter­ac­tions were com­pressed into the indi­vid­u­alised land­scapes of lock­down, alter­na­tive, vir­tu­al forms of social and spa­tial rela­tion­ships were brought into play. Whether by ensconc­ing one­self in vir­tu­al spaces or by ven­tur­ing anew into the sud­den­ly depop­u­lat­ed land­scapes of local urban neigh­bour­hoods, recon­fig­ured forms of indi­vid­ual spa­tial agency brought with them a cor­re­spond­ing recon­fig­ur­ing of the every­day urban imaginary.
For some, dystopi­an sce­nar­ios famil­iar from lit­er­a­ture and film were off­set by small utopi­an moments: the impulse of plan­ners and city coun­cils to take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage cit­i­zens in reimag­in­ing urban space, moments of com­mu­ni­ty and togeth­er­ness amid the enforced sep­a­ra­tions, an absence of traf­fic noise and pol­lu­tion, and new­ly audi­ble bird­song. Videos shared online that showed wild ani­mals roam­ing the streets, and even memes ridi­cul­ing the notion that “nature is heal­ing”, may have even offered some momen­tary respite from ongo­ing cli­mate anx­i­ety. While for many peo­ple, con­fine­ment could be expe­ri­enced as chaot­ic, over­crowd­ed, and made work-time almost end­less, for oth­ers it opened up time to reflect, and to pause, to imag­ine how their lives might be otherwise.
If there was a utopi­an impulse amid the ter­rors of the pan­dem­ic, what did it look like, and what traces remain? Is there an eth­i­cal and aes­thet­ic imper­a­tive to sal­vage the resid­ual glimpses, frag­ments, dreams and imag­i­nar­ies engen­dered by the pan­dem­ic? In what ways, if any, did the pro­ject­ed imag­in­ings of post-pan­dem­ic urban futures con­tribute to sub­stan­tive changes that are dis­cernible now, four years on? How are the lived spaces and tem­po­ral­i­ties of cities qual­i­ta­tive­ly dif­fer­ent today from what they were in 2019? Are they dif­fer­ent or was it all just a blip? What traces of pan­dem­ic behav­iour and expe­ri­ence remain in our dai­ly inter­ac­tions? Has the pan­dem­ic brought about a keen­er aware­ness and val­ue of the local? How did art and pho­tog­ra­phy respond to the tem­po­rary trans­for­ma­tion of pub­lic and social space? How have forms of every­day mobil­i­ty changed? Are there post-pan­dem­ic spa­tial sto­ries that reveal a trans­for­ma­tion in how peo­ple engage with and imag­ine every­day urban spaces? And if there are, what do these spa­tial sto­ries look like? What do they say and how might they be traced or mapped? What does re-engag­ing the every­day mean in a post-pan­dem­ic world?

About the Keynote speakers:
Stef Craps (Ghent University)
Stef is Pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture at Ghent Uni­ver­si­ty, where he directs the Cul­tur­al Mem­o­ry Stud­ies Ini­tia­tive. He has authored or edit­ed numer­ous books, spe­cial jour­nal issues and arti­cles on trau­ma, mem­o­ry, cli­mate change and eco-emo­tions as medi­at­ed through culture.

Dawn Lyon (Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent)
Dawn is Pro­fes­sor of Soci­ol­o­gy at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kent. She has pub­lished wide­ly on the soci­ol­o­gy of work, time and every­day life. Her recent research includes analy­sis of accounts of every­day life col­lect­ed by Mass Obser­va­tion dur­ing the Covid-19 Pan­dem­ic, attend­ing to rhythm and future imagining.

We wel­come pro­pos­als address­ing these issues from schol­ars at all career stages and a wide range of dis­ci­plines and backgrounds.

Abstract Sub­mis­sion: Please send abstracts (300 words max.) with your name, title, affil­i­a­tion (where appro­pri­ate) and a short bio (up to 200 words). Please pre­pare for a 20 minute pre­sen­ta­tion by 10 May 2024 to the con­fer­ence orga­niz­ers:

Noti­fi­ca­tions of accep­tance will be sent out by 7th June 2024.