Rationale and Structure
The Neighbourhoods Stream from its inception is a response to the ‘27 Neighbourhoods’ flagship project of the European Capital of Culture Rijeka 2020. The flagship project ‘connects people from the islands, the coast, the outback, the highlands and the city of Rijeka [and] with neighbourhoods in the 27 states of the European Union’.
Has the EU reached its limits and lost its ability to deal with the differences? Can neighbourhoods, as basic social units of urban and rural areas, overcome these limitations and establish a network of relationships and cultural gatherings with other European neighbourhoods? We think so – with effort and cooperation Europe can build a new identity based on local and regional initiatives. Neighbourhoods are where cultural cooperation and participation are achieved to their maximum. Taking care of transnational and local identities is what defines the term inter/local. We lay out this challenge for ourselves, our neighbourhoods and our neighbours across Europe (https://rijeka2020.eu/en/program/27-neighbourhoods/#news).
While its goal is primarily to connect Croatia, the 28th and newest member of EU, to the 27 other member states, the articulation of the ‘impulse’ of the project says so much more about building local and regional identities and transnational engagement and cultural cooperation. And with PSi coming to Rijeka and being embraced in the ECoC program, a more expansive sense of the ‘transnational’ comes about as other nationalities outside of Europe would come to Rijeka for the annual gathering of the association. What does this mean both for Rijeka and for PSi?
The challenge of engaging with the local host of our annual conference has been constant at every location we have held our gathering in previous years and it has not always been satisfactorily addressed. At PSi Rijeka 2020 the neighbourhoods stream directly takes up this challenge through a dramaturgy of respectful visitation, wayfaring our way in the neighbourhoods of Rijeka as an embodied expression of our care for the place and people who are enfolding us in their embrace in the brief time we will visit. We will pay our respects and present ourselves as Rijeka would to us. In the process the experience of encounter and exchange may establish links and networks of friendships and cooperation within and beyond Europe, within and beyond PSi.
The structure of the neighbourhoods stream follows the general design of the conference, with academic discussions in the morning and performative sessions in the afternoon and evening. But an additional component will happen three days before the conference: ‘Roro Rijeka’, which would follow the ‘roro journeys’ conducted in the Philippines for Fluid States 2015. The objective is to meet with local communities and groups involved in the 27 neighbourhoods ECoC Rijeka flagship project and exchange stories, performances, and practices of care. For two days, on 4-5 July, the stream conveners and a group of PSi Rijeka conference participants (who will respond to a call) will visit areas in the Rijeka town center (day 1) and travel to some place ‘out of town’, .e.g., Vrbnik in the island of Krk , (day 2) and interact with these neighbourhoods.
During the ‘Intensive Care’ and ‘Institutional Critique’ segments of the conference proper (2 hours: 1500-1700), we will invite those we have engaged with to a curated reflection-insight gathering session on ‘Roro Rijeka’, the structure of which will be a workshop using the conveners’ framework for a participatory international syllabus on Performance and Social Action, developed collaboratively in 2018. The syllabus would enable a discussion of the contexts and forms of practices of care and crises of care in terms of ‘histories of the present’, ‘vectors of power’, and ‘routes and relationships’, and identify courses of ‘action’–what performance ought to be doing to act, respond and engage, and how we envision a truly caring neighbourhood.
The After Dwight Conquergood Working Group will have its meeting at 1700-1730 following the workshop.
The performance component of the stream (at 1800 – 2000) will be a play from the Philippines to be presented in a larger program of collaborative work on the theme of caring neighbourhoods between a team of artists from the Philippines and a team from the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka. The collaboration will be a 10-month work of conceptualization and development and 5-day intensive workshops and rehearsals in Rijeka prior to the conference.
Call for Proposals
A neighbourhood can be a site of care, where one gives or receives care, or experiences its absence or crisis. A neighbourhood is where people live, a place inhabited, maintained and transformed communally. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as ‘the area of a town that surrounds someone’s home, or the people who live in this area’. For some this connotes warmth, comfort and safety: of being in the midst of, being enfolded or embraced in a caring environment, of being ‘surrounded’ by people who also live in the area, of being part of a community. A neighbourhood could thus be a community of care, even when the neighbourhood is the street or beneath a bridge, such as for those who are othered and criminalised as ‘homeless’ people or ‘illegal’ immigrants. A neighbourhood could thus connote not only a town or city, or rural community, but also informal settlements that may mark modes of exclusion, or perhaps resistive exits from the urban as a site of modernist organisation rationalised by the colonial ‘burden of care’. Neighbourhoods can be formed through displacement.
The term neighbourhood also connotes ‘neighbourhood watch’, which the Cambridge dictionary defines as ‘a way of reducing crime by organizing the people who live in an area to watch each other’s property and tell the police about possible criminals’. And what this throws into the fire for our contemplation is the reality of neighbourhoods as areas of privatisation, division and exclusion; as markers of class or status or wealth or its lack; as being composed of property that can be threatened by crime and so must be protected by the police, by the law, or by residents who form themselves into a surveillance group.
What does ‘care’ mean when we speak of neighbourhoods? In the case of ‘neighbourhood watch’ what immediately comes to mind is a crisis of care that is mitigated by the action of residents organizing themselves, instead of relying solely on the state to protect them. But the care implied here is double-edged, because it also means exclusion of people who are of a different kind: of race or ethnicity in the example of ghettoes, reservations and gated villages of privilege. It also throws into question processes of criminalization and their histories. And if a campaign against crime in neighbourhoods is state-organized, as in the case of the Philippine ‘anti-drug’ campaign, the neighbourhood watch can mean vigilantes on the loose or policemen seeking to kill as many as they can to earn merit points – only one case among many similar kinds going on in many parts of the world. We have to ask what kinds of neighbourhoods are we building. Why and how should we act-respond-engage?
The neighbourhoods stream of the conference invites proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, and workshops. The following are suggested subthemes:
Neighbourhoods and difference
Who is a ‘good’ neighbour?
Neighbourhoods and security, surveillance and the law
Neighbourhoods and ecological care
Neighbourhoods, social welfare and public health
Neighbourhoods, displacement and migration; transnational neighbourhoods
Neighbourhoods and urbanization
Neighbourhoods and disaster risk reduction and mitigation
Neighbourhoods and indigeneity
Cultural communities as neighbourhoods
Neighbourhoods and religion
Neighbourhoods as sanctuary or asylum
Hidden, underground or subversive neighbourhoods
Neighbourhoods and play
Neighbourhoods and social action or activism
Neighbourhood technologies and logistics
Colonial and racialised neighbourhoods, and decolonisation
We also call for participation in ‘Roro Rijeka’ on 4-5 July 2020. If you are interested in participating, please contact the stream curators directly with a 300-word statement of intent and 50-word bio. The statement of intent should say why you wish to join the event and how it relates to your current research and/or artistic practice; the bio describe the what, where, and with whom of your artistic practice and/or research. Please note that accepted participants will pay a small Participation Fee to cover transportation and meals, which is not part of the Conference Fee.
Proposals for individual papers for 20-minute presentations and panels, roundtables, and workshops organized on a theme for 1.5 hours shall be accepted.
How to Apply
To submit a proposal for the stream Neighbourhoods, please fill out the online application form, which can be found here.
The deadline to submit a proposal is December 31, 2019. All other conference dates and deadlines can be found on the conference timeline.
Please direct any questions regarding your application to firstname.lastname@example.org