Creative inquiry for Public Space: Agency, Monuments, and Images

Directed by Nilüfer Göle, professor of sociology at EHESS, funded by the Nomis Foundation, and hosted at Reid Hall – Columbia Global Centers | Paris, the AgorAkademi Project aims to query the emancipatory potential of the Public Space in late modernity.

Occupation movements, contested monuments, and controversial images catalyze the Agora and call for the renewal of political and scientific agendas. In the global age, where migration flows and the circulation of ideas and objects create dynamic of multicultural conditions, the Public Space becomes the site for demonstrations, the visibility of differences, intercultural encounters, and clashes around religious and secular norms.

The representation of images and objects become a subject of debate between values of the sacred and the freedom of expression. The (re)conversion of monuments and the destruction of statues question politics of memory and historical legacy in present-day relations of power.

AgorAkademi proposes to study the Public Space around three axes, namely agencies and imaginaries, contested monuments and statues, and controversial images and objects. To explore the emancipatory and creative power of the “Public square,” “Agora,” and “Maidan” in different cultural settings, an interdisciplinary approach is adopted to connect the topographic, aesthetic, and physical dimensions of the public space with the more abstract, philosophical, and sociological dimensions.

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