CfP: Public Transport as Public Space

To download the Call for Papers.

The Event

The conference Public Transport as Public Space is organised within PUTSPACE, a research project led by academics in Tallinn, Leipzig, Turku and Brussels. Both the conference and project explore what makes public transport a type of public space, and for whom.

As public transport continues to be explored primarily by engineers and economists, its publicness remains understudied. Yet, public transport embraces intense and intimate sites for encountering cultural diversity, facilitating social integration and negotiating public space. It reflects political ideologies, social relations and conflicts, allowing to reproduce or resist the configurations of power. Put simply, public transport is at the frontline of contesting what is, can be, or should be public in the city.

The conference aims to gather diverse contributions that humanise and politicise knowledge about public transport by exploring narratives, experiences and contestations of public transport.

Call for Thematic Sessions

The conference is not a typical academic event. Alongside academic researchers, it will gather public officials, policy experts, activists and artists.

We are currently looking for proposals for thematic sessions to be organised at the conference. By thematic session we mean roundtables, panel discussions (optionally with a keynote presentation), artistic interventions, workshops, sets of individual presentations, or any other creative format that facilitates an open discussion on public transport. The session can be conceptualised from any field related to humanities (broadly understood), including (but not limited to) history, anthropology, cultural studies, social sciences, political sciences and geography. Across the sessions the use of visual materials and presentations is strongly encouraged over “classic” PowerPoint slides.

If interested, please submit a short description (abstract of 400-500 words) of the thematic session by 30 September 2021 to the event organisers: Wojciech Kębłowski (wojciech.keblowski(a)vub.be) and Tauri Tuvikene (tauri.tuvikene(a)tlu.ee). If your session proposal is accepted, PUTSPACE will support you regarding its promotion, and selection of its participants.

The event will take place in Halles Saint Géry in Brussels, Belgium from 20-22 April 2022.

So far, the proposed themes include:

  • design and architecture of public (transport) space
  • the politics of public transport infrastructure
  • the pandemic resilience of public transpor
  • gendering public transport
  • passenger encounters: “othering” and “difference”
  • public transport labour
  • public transport museums and heritage
  • representations of public transport: public transport (and) art(s)
  • art-led research into public transport


The conference is organised as part of the PUTSPACE project, which is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme, co-funded by AKA, BMBF via DLRPT, ETAg, and the European Commission through Horizon 2020.