Call for Abstracts: Making Home in Wounded Places

Making Home in Wounded Places: Memory, Design, and the Spatial

March 3-4, 2017

An international symposium co-sponsored by MA Design Studies program, Parsons School of Art and Design History and Theory and The Transregional Center for Democratic Studies, New School for Social Research, Our cultural, political and physical geographies proliferate with wounded places: sites of conflict, rupture, and natural disasters; places marked by layers of turmoil and conquests; impromptu transit and refuge locations that become permanent. Loaded with trauma, these sites are the realand-imagined thirdspaces (Soja) or hybrid spaces (Bhabha).

“Making home” in these places, seldom a choice, is an act of necessity. It becomes simultaneously a material and symbolic endeavor, involving both design and memory practices, such as: “temporary” domestication as in refugee encampments; erasure of the sites’ past, whether through violent destruction of physical landmarks, or through ignoring the traces of its former life; or remaking of the space by diluting its native features and adding on the new. Given the humanitarian crises we have been experiencing today around the world, these material and symbolic adaptations of wounded places are both a pressing practical issue and a point of departure for scholarly reflection.

Wounded places are scarred with collective memory of what had happened: they contain markers of the past, which may or may not be legible to those who make home there. Mnemonic activities, whether vernacular (informal) or officially imposed, can either facilitate or constrain the making of home in wounded places. They can be a tool of reconciliation, and an important resource in reconstruction of communities; or they can maintain antagonisms, by freezing the signs of painful past embedded in the landscape.

The symposium “Making Home in Wounded Places: Memory, Design, and the Spatial” is conceived as a polyphonic intervention engaging the realms of design studies, art, and the social sciences. As we believe that spaces constitute critical dimensions in understanding the human condition in our times, we propose the following questions to inform our discussion around wounded places: How to make home in wounded places? What is the role of memory tensions in this process? How does the (re)design of wounded places impact their users? How are wounded places appropriated by the politics of memory? What are the strategies for navigating through wounded places — as individuals, as communities, as societies?

Brief abstracts — of no more than 300 words — should be submitted by email to by December 10, 2016.