HERA Webinar: Rethinking Public Space in Times of Social Distancing

PUTSPACE is co-hosting HERA’s 3rd Webinar in 2021 alongside the projects The European Spa and Food2Gather. The theme is “Rethinking Public Space in Times of Social Distancing”.

The webinar will take place on 11 May 2021, 14:00-15:30 CET.

It is free to join, but requires pre-registrating. Registration can be done here.

Keynotes speakers: Laurent Thévenot (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and Rick Dolphijn (Utrecht University)

Panelists: Tauri Tuvikene and Louise Sträuli (PUTSPACE), Christian Noack and Anna Cabanel (The European Spa), Helene Maria Fiane Teigen, Virginie Amilien and Giovanna Palutan (Food2Gather)

With the outbreak of Covid-19 and the following lockdowns across the globe, public space has become the object of dense state regulations aiming at the containment of the pandemic. Access to public space was significantly curtailed (if to different degrees in different states and at various times). What used to be seen primarily as a space for unhampered mobility and social encounters morphed into a sphere increasingly characterized by rules of spatial and social separation (‘social distancing’). Communication and sociability migrated to new, mostly digital environments of exchange. While the basic traffic infrastructure remained operational, citizens often found their movements confined to nearby parks and recreational areas. Intense debates followed about the desirability and legitimacy of interventions into the public sphere in the name of public health.

Our webinar sets out to discuss the impact the Covid-19 experience will possibly have on the re-conceptualization of the public space. Unwittingly, many of the chosen HERA JRP “Public Spaces” projects saw the object of their research change before their eyes: In the case of PUTSPACE this has been the public transport, in the case of Food2Gather this has been foodscapes as encounters – where people could not meet physically together anymore – and in the case of SPAS, it has been the European health resorts and their spa culture.

In the webinar, we wish to combine a theoretical perspective on the present and future of the public space with observation from the fieldwork of our projects dealing with eating, moving and resting as related to public spaces.