ESSCS 2011



Urban Performances and the Performative City

European Summer School in Cultural Studies

Lisbon, 27 June – 3 July 2011


The first Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture results from a partnership between the Lisbon Consortium (UCP – Catholic University of Portugal, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, CNC -National Culture Centre, Culturgest, Portuguese Film Museum, National Theatre Museum and the City of Lisbon) and the ESSCS (Universities of Copenhagen, Giessen, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Lijubliana, Oslo).

As a powerful symbol of complex societies and as a place where culture’s creative energies find one of its most important outlets, the city is not only one of the key topics for the study of culture, but as well one where the synergies between the interpretative pull of the Humanities and the culture economy’s measured social impact can be most effectively articulated. Then again, the city is an important surface for modernity’s critical self-awareness, not only as a representational symbol but also as a collective subject of social action attracting creative and intellectual actors. Performaticity aims to foster a discussion on the performance of the city, the urban space as a locus of the performance arts, the city as performative cluster, as well as on performance as a useful tool for the study of culture.

Although performance metaphors have been widely used to address urban culture, for instance by referring to the city as a theatre of social action, a spectacular catastrophe, in Le Courbusier’s words, where the dramatic setting of human life finds one of its most privileged stages, the theatrical/ performative productivity of such concepts goes way beyond the metaphorical. Indeed, the city is not only the setting, but also ‘the front’ (Goffmann) for individual fixed performances, that is, it fosters certain behaviours and practices that are socially productive in that they are repeated, i.e., ‘twice-behaved’ (Schechner), and which also enable transformations of the self. On the macro level, the city then is not only theatrical, bringing about performative practices that impact identity constructions, but it also supports theatre and performance as institutional practices. The city then is a primordial place for the production of art. It is both performative and sponsors performance art, or said otherwise, it fosters art and is art, it creates theatre and is theatre.

The I Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture will meet in the cultural institutions which are part of the Lisbon Consortium and will take Lisbon as a spectacular setting for theoretically and practice oriented reflections on the city’s multiple performative dimensions.

The organizers welcome papers focussing on the following topics or other issues related to urban performances:

  • Performance as concept for the study of city cultures; 
  • Lisbon as metaphor; representations of the metropolis; global modernities and city representations;
  • Writing the city; literary neighbourhoods; the writer and urban modernity;
  • The city as spectacle; urban performances/urban identities;
  • Gound zero: disaster and reinvention; creative destruction and urban planning; creative neighbourhoods and the performance of city life;
  • Performances of power in the arts: programming and curating; showcasing urban cultures;
  • The city in performance art; (re)mediations of urban spaces;
  • Glocal performances of city life; mimic spaces; (in)visible spaces and practices;
  • Urban memories: the city as trauma and euphoria; empire and post-colonialism;
  • Creative policies for the city; creative players and arts management.

The Summer School will be hosted by the Lisbon Consortium, June 27th-July 3rd 2011. Both doctoral students and junior researchers (post-doc) are invited to apply for the summer school. The I Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture can accept at least four students from each ESSCS member and cover the accommodation costs of two students of each ESSCS member.

Deadline for submissions: February 28th, 2011

Proposals for 15-minute papers should be sent to and by Monday 28 February 2011. Submissions should include the title of the proposed paper, an abstract in English (200 words), your name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation and a brief bio (max. 100 words) mentioning main research interests and projects. The Organizing Committee will return its decision by 15 March 2011.

Organizing Committee

Isabel Capeloa Gil

Peter Hanenberg

Paulo de Campos Pinto

Ana Fabíola Maurício

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