Tihomir Viderman

Doctoral Candidate

Doctoral Thesis

Appropriating places of concern: affect and inclusive design praxis (working title)

This research projects explores the relationship between the politics of affect and the praxis of urban design and planning. It inquiries into spatial praxis of collectives that engaged in the creation of self-made shared spaces of solidarity and opportunity, so as to position affect theories within the field of urban design and planning. In view of a growing interest in relationality and materiality of the making of places, affect theories might contribute a human-centred understanding of how difference is sensed bodily, and how it is constituted, negotiated and mobilized as part of social practices and cultural processes at places of everyday life. The relevance of this endeavour lies in developing an inclusive perspective as regards everyday spatial praxis of urban inhabitants, their collective capacity to negotiate belonging, to appropriate space and to contest structural constraints. The project thus taps into the rich experience and knowledge that are part of everyday life to illuminate how urban space is structured and appropriated. This concerns not only the question of how an action is performed, but also how the action is constituted and how qualitative relations among subjects determine its altering potential. In such an understanding the theorizing of affects offers a more profound insight into social processes and their altering potentials, while providing necessary knowledge for an ethical engagement with people, the overlapping patterns of everyday life and related lived space. By situating affect in relation to spatial praxis and broader debates on the spatialized critique of everyday life, this project suggests that affect and bodily encounters as part of lived space are crucial for dis-alienating everyday life.

Based on the empirical inquiry into counter spaces of activists providing assistance and care to refugees at Vienna’s train stations and spatial practices of the collective Plataforma de Afectados Por La Hipoteca in Barcelona, mobilized in solidarity with foreclosed people, the project explores how affective collective actions reshape meanings and domains of everyday life through making an emancipatory urban space of caring social relations that enable the full development of individual and collective potentials. The project further aims to propose a pedagogical approach which would extend the domain of design and planning beyond the assumed rational objectivity of visual analysis and behavioural methodologies, to enhance a productive and ethical relationship between everyday spaces of urban inhabitants and the praxis of urban design and planning. While giving attention to material and affective notions of lived space and spatial praxis, in particular those which are difficult to convey in words and visuals, this epistemology opens design and planning to a range of explorative methodologies and experimental methods which nurture transdisciplinary and empathic learning.