About

The Public Space Working Group began in 2010 when Setha Low, Professor of Anthropology, Psychology, and Earth and Environmental Studies and Fabio Mattioli, a graduate student in Anthropology at the Graduate Center of CUNY, expanded the public engagement component of the Public Space Research Group The objective was to create a non-hierarchical forum for faculty and students from local universities (especially from the CUNY campuses), artists, citizens, and activists to meet, discuss and reformulate the politics, conditions and possibilities of the public space and an expanded public sphere.  The group started meeting as a not for credit seminar, but soon developed into an open meeting with a website and public events held bi-weekly or monthly hosting internationally renown scholars such as Kurt Iveson, Kristen Day, Tom Angotti.  Even with these scholarly events, the working group has maintained an open and safe academic space for the discussion of student work, projects and papers. The Public Space Working Group has been active in highlighting pressing political issues, such as Occupy Wall Street, and has used its public events as a way to engage larger public discussions. For example, the first mini conference in 2011, “Space for the Public?” the Public Space Working Group interrogated NYC based actors on the limits and possibilities using of public space.  The Public Space Working Group also worked with David Harvey on his “Right to the City” (2010) conference and developed a sessions of presentations on “Public Space and Privatization” and well as workshops on “Resisting Enclosure” to bring public space activists and artists to the Graduate Center. These conference-based experiences led the Group to collaborate with the Media organization Paper Tiger TV for the screening of the documentary “Open to the Public?” - a 40 minutes discussion of the corporate seizure of public areas. The 2012 event “Protest and Public Space” , a two day conference that constituted a political and intellectual forum for discussing the current wave of global uprising through the lens of space – a theme we already starting exploring with the event “Revolution, Bodies, and Urban Space in Egypt” held in conjunction with the James Gallery and the Center for the Humanities. The Public Space Working Group events have been sponsored by the DSC, the Ph.D. Programs in Anthropology, Psychology and Earth and Environmental Sciences, the Space and Time Collective, and the Public Science Project to name just a few of the supporters.

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