Mapping the Ethics and Aesthetics of ‘Unsafe Spaces’ (Public Assembly)

The seminar will be hosted by ETHER (Ethics and Aesthetics for Encountering the Other) a global research network of members working across academic, arts and public sectors.

Event abstract

The aim of this assembly is twofold: to share insights from the two seminars with the broadest range of stakeholders in the public, private and NGO sectors and to collaborate on generating new questions relevant to these groups. The assembly will include representatives of arts organisations, schools, social care providers, health and mental well-being charities, community organisations, social commentators and others.

The theme centres on the notion of the ‘contact zone’ (Pratt 1991), a space in which people with different biographies, understandings and social trajectories engage in everyday encounters. Linguistic ethnographers have generated detailed descriptions of communicative encounters that take place there. Artists and philosophers, on the other hand, have studied people’s emotional, imaginative and moral investment in such encounters. We conceptualise these contact zones as metaphorical ‘unsafe spaces’ to highlight initial discomforts that encounters with difference are likely to produce.

This assembly aims to explore ways in which such ‘disturbing encounters’ can be harnessed for the good. We will draw on insights from the previous two seminars and draw on experiences and questions of participants to map the transformative potential of these spaces across diverse layers of social activity. The seminar will engage participants with the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions of enabling such encounters in public life.

Find out more about ETHER.

Event schedule

9:00-9:30 Introduction. Reflection on Seminar One and Seminar Two

9:30-11:30 Provocation. Various

12:00-13:00 Keynote. Gert Biesta (philosopher of education, Maynooth University)

14:00-15:00 Creative Lab led by Artist in Residence: Opera North

15:30 – 17:00 Conversation led by Kenan Malik (writer, lecturer and broadcaster, London)