Paths and tools of the production of space. Urban Ethnography, Explorative Mapping and Visualisation

Link: TISS 280.393

UE Übung / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 4.0

**This course will be offered by City of Vienna Visiting Professor 2016 Sybille Frank (TU Berlin) and university assistant Elina Kränzle**

i. Aim of the course

This exercise will introduce students to two research methods that have gained prominence in international urban research in the past few years whenever the variety of urban lifeworlds came into focus: urban ethnography and explorative mapping. Urban ethnography strives to enable researchers to encounter current urban lifeworlds in a way that primarily seeks to reconstruct the ways of being-in-the-world and seeing-the-world of a specific group of urban dwellers that share certain practices and/or beliefs, and to describe them in a non-normative sense. The method aims at gaining a better understanding of how people use the city and make sense of life in urban spaces, and it leads students to reflect the specific positionalities of themselves as researchers. Explorative mapping and visualisation as inventive methodologies are used both to produce and to communicate knowledge. Mapping observations of urban lifeworlds and bringing them onto a common presentational plane, we are able to trace linkages and trends that would otherwise go unnoticed. Explorative maps create new propositions about the urban realm that can express and communicate knowledge beyond academia to a wider public through their experimental, visual, and palpable character.

The challenge of this Exercise will be to transfer the theoretical knowledge gained in the module’s lecture and seminar to a specific urban site or practice which is studied through urban ethnography. Using mappings and visualisations to gather and represent findings in a way different from the spoken and written word will support urban research and planning communication and will guide students to break up the complexity of relational spaces. With a combination of these methods a more considerate and inclusive urban research and planning can be practiced.

ii. Contents of the course

After an introduction to the two research methods and a field trip to the city that will exemplify the methodological approaches and their application “on the ground” students will be asked to develop their own field trips that will take place in the 2nd and 3rd teaching blocks. Students will either choose a specific social group that they will investigate closely, or they will choose a specific urban site in order to explore the different practices it entices. The themes of the excursions should thematically be embedded in the semester topic “What Crises and Whose Solidarity? Exploring Urban Present(s)“ and build on current urban development trends in Vienna. In the Urban Development Plan Vienna STEP 2025 the city has outlined nine guiding principles for future urban development:

  • The Livable City
  • The Socially Just City
  • The Gender-Sensitive City
  • The Educating City
  • The Cosmopolitan City
  • The Prospering City
  • The Integrated Metropolitan Region
  • The Ecological City
  • The Participative City

These city models will serve as themes based on which student groups will plan and organize a field trip and present their findings or/and involve the group into a practical exercise. Applying both urban ethnographic research methods as well as mapping and visualisation in the study of the site or practice should help to transfer the theory and insights from the module’s lecture and seminar as well as the planning discourse of the City of Vienna to urban realities. Documenting and visualising the content and the process of these field trips has the aim to share the gained knowledge with a wider group of people and add another layer of knowledge about contemporary urban lifeworlds to the planning discourse.

Intensive Teaching Block I (14th to 18th of March 2016)

Introduction to Urban Ethnography (Sybille Frank)
Mapping and Visualisation in Urban Studies (Elina Kränzle)
Excursion Vienna: First field trip (Sybille Frank / Elina Kränzle)

Intensive Teaching Block II (9th to 13th of May 2016, all day)

Student field trips

Intensive Teaching Block III (20th to 24th of June, all day)

Student field trips

iii. Assessment of students’ performance

The evaluation of the course will be based upon the following activities:
20% participation in discussions
and continuous course work
40% design, preparation and realization of a field trip
40% documentation and reflection of the field trip and embedding of practical knowledge into theories offered in lecture exercise (280.038) and seminar (280.394) (in written form, 5 to 10 pages, plus visual documentation and maps, in a coherent field trip guide).

iv. Further information

The Exercise (UE) „Paths and tools of the production of space: Urban Ethnography and Participatory Action Research“ is part of the module 11 „Urban culture and public space“ (consisting of three courses, VO 280.038, SE 280.394 and UE 280.393) which is offered during three five days intensive teaching blocks (ITB) by the Interdisiciplinary Centre for Urban Culture and Public Space (SKuOR). Module 11 compiles a set of integrated courses dealing with „Urban culture and public space“ at the interface of the fields of urban studies and urban design/urban planning. In 2016, the main focus will be on „Urban culture, public space and the present: Urban solidarity and European crisis“.

The courses mainly address master students (as well as late Bachelor or early PhD); especially those from spatial planning and architecture are invited to take part. Yet we explicitly welcome students coming from other Viennese universities in related disciplines, such as urban studies, urban design, geography, sociology, landscape architecture, cultural studies, … as well as ‚Mitbeleger‘.  The course language is English. We support students’ active participation in debates and interactive teaching formats, and encourage you to bring in and develop your own ideas and critical perspectives. We seek to create an international level of debate and exchange and welcome students from all countries and cultures. Just contact us (info@skuor.tuwien.ac.at).

Students interested in this course have to take part in the lecture (Tiss no 280.038) as well as in the seminar (Tiss no 280.394).
To take part in all three courses of the module 11 please register for module 11 until 3rd of March 2016 (14.00 h) via TISS registration for the course, VO 280.038. Further course registration will be carried out directly at the kick-off meeting on 14th of March 2016 09:00, Karlsgasse 13, Seminar room 1.

Dates of the Module 11
The main body of teaching will be delivered during three intensive teaching blocks (ITB):
ITB 1.  14 to 18 Mar 2016
ITB 2.  9 to 13 May 2016
ITB 3.  20 to 24 Jun 2016