Current Calls

Open Call. It is now possible to submit applications for a fellowship with PUTSPACE. Deadline for applications: 31 May 2022.


Public Transport as Public Space: 4th Call for Visiting Fellows

Downlad the Call as a PDF.

The Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography in Leipzig, Germany, invites applications for a

Visiting fellows programme (f/m/d)

in the framework of for the research project “Public Transport as Public Space: Experiencing, Contesting, Narrating” (PUTSPACE). Applicants are welcome to apply for stays ranging from one to six months at one of the project’s partner institutions.

The fellowship scheme is administered by the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, and financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the 2019-2022 “Humanities in the European Research Area“ funding scheme.

The IfL conducts basic research on theregional geography of Germany and Europe and communicates its research findings to a wider public. Under the heading ‘Geographies of the Regional’, the institute develops perspectives on socio-spatial developments in a globalised society that is increasingly characterised by differences, diversity and complexity.

The PUTSPACE project examines public transport as one type of public space, and explores how public transport confronts citizens with social diversity, speaks of different types of ownership, surveillance, subversion, interaction and transformation of social norms (show details).

Scope and purpose

The fellowship scheme has been set up with the aim to reach out to wider publics, to support knowledge mobility in an emerging field, to strengthen the ties between interested academic and non-academic institutions, to stimulate knowledge production and transfer, and to create durable networks for making a positive impact for vibrant and inclusive European public spaces.

Both academic and non-academic candidates are encouraged to apply for the fellowship scheme. No regional or disciplinary restrictions apply. Research stays shall take place at one of the four project consortium institutions (or a combination thereof). Fellowship durations may vary from one to six months, depending on the ambition and scope of the individual projects. The fellows receive a monthly stipend intended to cover travel and accommodation expenses.

  • Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography, Leipzig (1.440 € per month)
  • Åbo Akademi University, Turku (1.710 € per month)
  • Tallinn University, School of Humanities, Tallinn (1.440 € per month)
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels (1.500 € per month)

The fellows will be provided with an own working desk and have access to institutional libraries and other facilities. The hosting institutions will provide support for visa procurement, accommodation, etc.

The fellowships are explicitly output-oriented, i.e. should be developed with a precise goal in mind: joint publications, project applications, workshops, outreach products, exhibitions etc. Other innovative formats are welcome. These should align to the overall purpose of the PUTSPACE project, and make proof of the applicants‘ active engagement with individual and project-wide cooperation opportunities. Applicants are furthermore expected to actively participate in events at hosting institutions, and to deliver at least one public presentation in institute colloquia or a similar platform. Fellows are encouraged to organise workshops, develop research projects, contribute to teaching or engage in other activities that are in line with the aims of the project and the hosting institutions programmes.

The IfL follows the goal of professional equality for all. Recognised persons with disabilities receive preference by equal qualification. We welcome applications from individuals with a migration background.

Your application

Please send your application package as a single pdf document via e-mail with the keyword:
Putspace fellowship to: t_weicker(a)leibniz-ifl.de

In order to apply, please submit an up to date curriculum vitae in 1-2 pages and a research and activity plan of not more than 1.500 words. This should lay down how your past and planned activities relate both to the PUTSPACE project, and to the envisioned hosting institution(s), and shall include a detailed outline of the projected final output in terms of joint publications, events, applications etc., as well as outline the planned activities during the fellowship and set the time schedule for carrying out those tasks. All applicants are encouraged to get in touch with PUTSPACE members prior to applying to discuss their planned activities.

By submitting the application, you consent to the processing of your personal data for the purpose of the application procedure.

Contact: Dr Tonio Weicker (+49 341 600 55-172, t_weicker(at)leibniz-ifl.de)
Deadline for applications: 31st of May 2021

Following a notification within a month after this deadline, fellowships may begin from July 2022 onwards.


Breës, Gwenaël

Curriculum vitae

Contact: gwen(a)collectifs.net

Project description

The construction of a new metro line in Brussels was decided without any real public debate. However, its construction will cost almost 3 billion euros, which will consume for 10 years all of Brussels’ mobility budgets and much more. According to the most optimistic projections, this line will not be completed before 2030 and will then generate a modal shift of barely 0.6% of Brussels’ car traffic. Its construction will disrupt the socio-economic life of several neighbourhoods. Its implementation will result in major load breaks and the total or partial abolition of several tram lines… Why was this project, which was conceived in the 1960s, approved 50 years later without any analysis of the alternatives? What are its real advantages? Our project consists of producing a series of video capsules to stimulate reflection and debate.

Correia, Zeynep

Contact: zeynepcerenakyuz(a)gmail.com

Project description

The impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on public transportation resonate more deeply than the obvious disruption to commuting practices. People’s reflexivity and relationship with public transport, conceptions of space, time, self and the other, and the complexities of public transport have all changed after the onset of the pandemic. However, the pandemic is but one of multiple events contributing to this ever-changing reality, part of a continuous processual and historical unfolding. Beneath the empirical tip of this process, and beyond the effects of similarly remarkable events, both historical circumstances and day-to-day experiences contribute to the emergence of urban public transport as public space. All these events help to highlight unsettled relationalities by recognizing ontological emergence in the social world through, among others, the heritage of ideas and culture left behind by previous social-cultural interactions. In this context, and following from my previous work, I posit that critical realist epistemology provides a useful lens to historicise and theorise “the Context of contexts” relevant to this ongoing process. With this project, I aim to develop the conceptual foundations of how critical realism can be applied to better understand the emergence of public transport as public space and expanding its application to different public transport practices. By applying critical realist philosophy to narratives of public transport expressed in literary works, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of the contexts and experiences that allow public transport to emerge as public space.

Joshi, Nirali

India Institute, King’s College London

Institutional website

Contact: nirali.joshi(a)kcl.ac.uk

Project description

Through her empirical focus on India’s postcolonial railways and human accidents, Nirali seeks to advance a comparative perspective on the different scales and historical processes through which precarity of life within mobility is produced, and the ethical and substantive questions of personhood and citizenship that thus emerge. She also looks forward to the fellowship opportunity to initiate dialogue with fellow researchers across geographical transport contexts on the contested ‘publicness’ of public transport, especially around governing, administering and policing transport space as that which is techno-legally abstracted and territorialised but produced socio-spatially and dialectically with urban space and mobility processes.

Kemmer, Laura

Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin

Curriculum vitae

Contact: laura.kenner(a)fu-berlin.de

Project description

During my 6-months fellowship (January-June 2020) I have been collaborating with the PUTSPACE team on two major themes. First, from my previous explorations of how public transport (PT) infrastructures bring about new formations of ‘urban collectivity’, I have been presenting some conceptual ideas on how the material stuff of PT forges relations between people and things in the city (i.e. ‘material resistance’, ‘promissory things’) and I have been organizing workshops with the PUTSPACE group on affective and embodied methods for exploring these kinds of relations. From these, a productive exchange emerged particularly with Tonio Weicker and Wladimir Sgibnev (IfL) and PUTSPACE-fellow Maxwell Woods. During the second half of my fellowship, I have been concentrating on the collective elaboration of an article on ‘Infrastructures of Exposure’ (submitted 09/2020), which bring together our shared interest in both vulnerability and complicity as basic features of ‘publicness’ and which presents exposure as conceptual offer for elaborating a generative critique of the ‘integrative’ function of PT.

Kurnicki, Karol

University if Warwick, UK

Institutional website

Contact: kurnicki(a)gmail.com

Project description

Everything is going digital: bike rides, cars, buses, walks in the city. All that is mobile turns into data, software, algorithms, predictions. Taking this as a starting point, during my fellowship I explore digitalisation of transportation and mobility in three ways.

First, I prepare an academic article and a presentation that investigate what kind of public space is created by digital mobility technologies and what are the ways of making digital space public. This is intended to shed light on new facets of PUTSPACE project and at the same time is a continuation of my work at Warwick University, which elucidated ways of “doing im|mobility” through digital means.

Secondly, inspired by the premise of the book “How to Run a City Like Amazon, and Other Fables” (M. Graham, R. Kitchin, S. Mattern & J. Shaw eds. 2019), I propose a vision of a city in which Mobility as a Service are fully operational. This takes the form of a science-fiction short story populated by intelligent means of transport, digital mobility systems and connected citizens. The vision of how a MaaS City looks like is meant to provide a new perspective on current digital transformations of cities and spaces

Third part of the fellowship is devoted to the question if it is possible to think of a mobility platform, which goes beyond the focus on the “service” and gives preference to social and emancipatory elements of mobility provision. The starting question is: is it possible to go beyond the critique of platforms and envisage a digital tool that strengthens public values of transportation? These issues will be explored in a design workshop, engaging critical thinking and inventiveness of participants.

Lukosiene, Indra

Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

Curriculum vitae

Contact: indra.lukosiene(a)gmail.com

Maltz, Diana F.

Southern Oregon University

Curriculum vitae

Contact: maltzd(a)sou.edu

Project description

This project examines first-person memoirs to recover the worklives and shared social spaces of Black British transport workers from the late 1940s through the early 1970s. Beginning in 1948, the British government recruited West Indians to sail to England in order to take up jobs in the transit industries. The London Transport Museum later archived their accounts of life as bus and train conductors, maintenance men, and canteen workers. These new arrivals forged communities in various spaces: in training centers; on station platforms and canteens; on the vehicles themselves; and in social clubs that met on weekends and in off-hours. Transit also emerged as a significant, complex site of cross-racial social exchange. Over the years, the industries took steps to accommodate and adapt to a multicultural workforce. This project reads transport narratives through the critical lenses of oral history and life writing; it also critiques fictional treatments about Black transit workers as they resonate with factual accounts of the experience.

Mittal, Gaurav

Department of Geography, National University of Singapore

Institutional website
Curriculum vitae

Contact: gauravmittal(a)u.nus.edu

Project description

As part of his PUTSPACE visiting fellowship at IfL, Gaurav will be working on a paper discussing the nature of ‘public’ in transport provisions in two small cities in India, namely Dehradun and Shillong. The paper will be based on the findings of his PhD research, which discovered that most of the existing private-owned transport services in these cities are not considered part of cities’ public transport by the government agencies. These considerations led to interventions in the cities’ transport by the government in the form of funding for new public buses in the early 2010s. However, these buses have largely failed to alter the transport landscape of the cities, and instead created a false dichotomy between state-owned and private-owned transport, recognising former as ‘public’ and later as ‘informal’ transport. In this reference, the paper will attempt to answer: What is public about the urban transport in Dehradun and Shillong? How does this publicness get articulated in transport practices? What role does transport play in shaping the broader public sphere in these cities?

Namberger, Fabian

Goldsmiths, University of London

Institutional website

Contact: fabian.namberger(a)gold.ac.uk

Project description

My PhD project asks how platform-based transportation companies transform our cities. Taking Uber’s arrival and sustained presence in Toronto as a case study, my research interweaves in-depth empirical research with critical social theory. Paying close attention to the three ‘vectors of Uberisation’ of taxi industry re-regulation, public-private rideshare partnerships as well as massive data extraction through Uber’s AVs, my project homes in on the inherently contradictory, uneven and non-synchronous collisions between the seemingly “weightless” logics of digital platforms on the one hand and the permanence, inertia and fixity of long-existing urban infrastructures and socio-spatial relations on the other. 

Peterle, Giada

Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World, University of Padua, Italy

Personal website
Curriculum vitae

Contact: giada.peterle(a)uniped.it 

Project description

The project stems from the idea that stories have always been an effective tool to stimulate memories, emotions and opinions to emerge, but are also valuable methods to do innovative research in urban contexts. The interdisciplinary research project brings cultural geography and the geohumanities, urban and mobility studies, literary and comic book geographies together, to analyse public transport in Turku from the creative perspective of “narrative geographies”. After qualitative fieldwork through creative, mobile, and narrative methods of research, the interviews, visual memories, and archival materials collected along the tramway of Turku have been translated in an original geoGraphic narrative written and drawn by Giada Peterle. Her creative output, titled Lines. Moving With Stories of Public Transport in Turku, will be published by Italian Publishing house BeccoGiallo and by the online journal of graphic journalism Stormi, in its Italian translation.

Polsky, Anton

Russian State University for the Humanities

Institutional website
Curriculum vitae

Contact: makemakemakemake(a)gmail.com

Ringoot, Sonia

Personal website

Contact: contact(a)soniaringoot.com

Project description

The tram 55 is a very busy line in Brussels. 6 km long, it connects the city centre with the northern part of the capital. It passes through working class neighborhoods, with its diverse and local shops and runs alongside numerous educational institutions.

Today, this tram line is in danger of disappearing. The creation of a new metro line, Metro 3, would replace it. This vast project, currently estimated at 2 billion Euros, would link the South and the North of Brussels in one fell swoop. Elaborated without any citizen participation, this project has been the subject of only a few public debates.

As user and director, I set out to meet the residents on their way on the 55 to make a podcast and then a short movie.The podcast “Tram 55 or the great tram robbery “ was finished in June 2020. The movie will be shot from January 2021 on.

Roman, Natalia Irina

Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany

Personal website

Contact: site.specific.ideas(a)gmail.com

Project description

Schimkowsky, Chris

Department of Sociological Studies & School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield

Google Scholar

Contact: ch.schimk(a)gmail.com

Project description

Passenger conduct on urban public transport can become problematic. Transgressions of tacit or explicit codes of commuter conduct can affect the efficiency and safety of transport operations, and cause discomfort and annoyance to fellow public transport users. Aware of these potential negative repercussions, public transport providers frequently employ media technologies such as posters, notices, and signs to tackle disruptive or otherwise undesirable passenger behaviours by conveying behavioural expectations. During my fellowship, I will work together with PUTSPACE team member Silja Laine to host a workshop that brings together researchers who study such media-based efforts to manage passenger conduct.

Shaker, Reza

Department of Cultural Geography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Institutional website

Contact: r.shaker.ardekani(a)rug.nl

Project description

Reza Shaker is a PhD candidate in the Department of Cultural Geography, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen. He is a trained urban sociologist/geographer/planner with interests in urban ethnography, aesthetic and cultural consumption, liminality, the body, Othering, and affect. His current research focuses on the construction of the Other within everyday urban (im)mobile spaces of encounter. Taking the ‘Muslim Other’ into consideration, the fellowship investigates Muslims’ everyday encounters within the (im)mobile spaces of public transport that entangle bodies with different histories, backgrounds, emotions, affects, and imaginaries. Employing a cross-national/interurban comparative ethnography in Amsterdam and Tallinn, the fellowship presents public transport as a cross-cultural meeting place with spatial negotiation of difference to study the sensorial, corporeal, and affective travel experiences of the Muslim passenger. Contributing to the field of mobilities studies, the fellowship bridges the gap in the empirical evidence on the role of public transport, race, and religion in the Othering of Muslims.

Talivee, Elle-Mari

Under and Tuglas Literature Centre, Estonian Academy of Sciences
Tallinn University

Institutional website
Projects and publications (Estonion Research Information System)

Contact: ellemari(a)utkk.ee

Timko, Peter

Contact: peter.n.timko(a)gmail.com

Woods, Maxwell

Facultad de Artes Liberales, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Chile

Institutional website
Curriculum vitae

Contact: maxwell.woods(a)uai.cl

Project description

My work conceptualized what kind of public space public transport is by exploring the relationship between public transport, modernity, and coloniality. More precisely, my work investigated how public transport as public space served as a colonial technology for the disciplining and creation of the modern subject. In this instance, modern public transport as public space illuminates how public space as a site for social integration can often better be understood as the imposition of modernity onto the social body by eliminating other forms of being, thinking, and living in common. Modern public transport as public space, I argue, consolidates the colonial hegemony of the project of modernity. To accomplish this research goal, my work primarily focuses on the literary representations of public transport as a public space in the work of Alfred Döblin in Germany and Pedro Lemebel in Chile.