The Banlieue Network, the international research network funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), has taken a new initiative to collaborate across academic faculties to create opportunities for debate, knowledge transfer and sharing expertise and good practice.
The organising committee, Christina Horvath, senior lecturer in French Studies, and Juliet Carpenter, research fellow in Housing and Urban Regeneration, are both from Oxford Brookes University and designed the series of interdisciplinary events to address the representation, theory and practice of suburban space.
Between July 8 2013 and July 12 2013, a Summer School was organised in Greater Paris, France, to provide researchers, research students, urban practitioners, artists and international scholars a chance to connect at a week-long interdisciplinary programme and explore French ‘Banlieue’ suburbs. ‘Banlieues’ were built in the 1950s and 1960s to address the housing shortage, but today they suffer from insufficient social services, high unemployment and delinquency rates. These disadvantaged neighbourhoods in France provided the international network with an important opportunity to explore the relationship between space, community, identity and politics; and create future visions for pathways for sustainable communities. The programme consisted of a series of presentations, talks, urban walks and creative workshops and collaborated with the local community to bring together theory and practice. The Summer School went beyond scholarly research to explore creative research work, including evening sessions with local Rap artists, local performances and arts projects where local children made cameras out of cardboard boxes. Serena Cello, a PhD Student in France and Italy, said:
“For me, it was a very rich experience, both on the professional and the human level. I really enjoyed the conferences and urban walks which allowed us to grasp different aspects of the suburbs, and talk about our projects within the group. The initiative to bring together researchers working in different disciplines but on the same subject was simply brilliant since it enabled us to discover different approaches and perspectives. I was very delighted to take part in this experience.”
To follow-on from the Summer School, Oxford Brookes University will be holding an interdisciplinary conference, organised by Banlieue Network, to promote the exchange of knowledge around the subject of the suburbs. The Glass Tank, a unique exhibition space located on the ground floor of the new Abercrombie extension on the Gipsy Lane site, will provide an exhibition space to display the images, texts and audiovisual works that are the results of the Summer School during the conference. The conference will encourage comparative approaches and adopt an innovative stance to contemporary problems by combining theoretical and practical research in order to provide new insights into the mechanisms of social exclusion and spatial segregation.
The conference and exhibition will be held in the Glass Tank at Oxford Brookes University, from 3-5 April 2014, and will provide interesting discussion in the following research fields: Sustainable Urban Development, French Studies, Urban Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Architecture, Cinema, History, Literature, Information Science, Geography, Sociology and Planning.
More information can be found on the Banlieue Network website.
For more information on Oxford Brookes University and the courses we offer visit our website here.