Spaces for democracy that require the friction and conflict necessary for freedom and dissent to emerge. If we were to apply this to our professional careers, then we might see that the friction, conflict and dissent might be present in many aspects of our careers and they can be sources for growth. The notion of agonistic space is borrowed from Chantal Mouffe: Some reflections on an Agonistic Approach to the public.IF we want to acknowledge on one hand the permanence of the antagonistic dimension of the conflict while on the other allowing the possibility for its “taming”, we need to envisage a third type of relation, “agonism.” (Mouffe, 2005,p.805) In Making things public: Atmospheres of democracy. Bruno Latour & Peter Weibel, Editors. Cambridge: The MIT Press.The public space is the battleground where different hegemonic projects are confronted, without any possibility of final reconciliation. What democracy politics requires is the fostering of a multiplicity of public spaces of agonistic confrontation.
Environmental psychology an its environments: natural and built. The contrast is between built environments and the kinds of relationships they support versus the natural environments. This distinction however, is one that directs research.
In my trajectory of studies I chose to work with public space, which happen to be a “natural” what I like to call “designed nature” in the city, the built environment. Along these lines I just published a chapter about Central Park and the Aesthetics of Order in Karen Franck and Quentin Stevens book: Loose Space: Diversity and possibility in urban life, where I look at how surveillance, maintenance and beautification are the guiding forces for the improvement of public spaces.Here I address the issue of agonism as a critique to what Central Park is not really providing in its vision for the development of capital projects.
There is yet a third environment, the virtual, which I like to include under development driven by technology. Along these lines I am working on a book chapter that seeks to offer a parallel criticism between the kind of criticism with which urban change was received and the kinds of criticism that also seem to plague the emergence of communication mediated technologies: the loosening of social ties. Also look at the technological lag or the way technologies sometimes do not deliver what they offer. There is another tension in the relationship we have with technologies, is my argument.
In all these subjects from public space to technology, we use many different methods both qualitative and quantitative and seek to find patterns,to inform how space is defined, used, and represented.
But also a critical stance from which to disentagle the way the world is presented to us. An appropriate example will be the work of Donna Haraway with dioramas and her take on patriarchy and the representations of other replicated in the museum displays.
As an interdisciplinary field, Environmental Psychology offer one of the most useful skills: the ability to assume different perspectives and address the complexity of issues that different environments pose for us. The multiple methods and level of analysis that environmental psychology affords is an advantage to be seized. Finding your own place depends on the focus you apply to your area of research. Bringing your original interests to current issues is also a challenge, especially for junior faculty. To have many different networks is also a useful strategy and this can be obtained through the networking conferences provide. The agonistic space I referred to at the beginning of this presentation is not unique to a reading of public space, but in a society increasingly urban and heterogeneous, it is a necessary skill to deal with difference, controversy and dissent in the classroom, in personal relations, with colleagues and other spheres. Thanks for your time.
Environmental Psychology Presentation
Agonistic spacefriction, tension, contrast, conflict and dissent