Call for Papers
OPEN PANEL 77 “Environ|Mental Urbanities: Problematizing ‘the Mental’ and ‘the Urban’ in Ethnographic Inquiry“
Panel organizers: Patrick Bieler, Milena Bister and Tomás Criado (Humboldt University Berlin)
@ 4S Conference 2021, Oct 6-9
In ethnographic inquiries of urban atmospheres, biosocial relations and bodies as practiced, social science scholars situate subjective, embodied experiences in between organisms and environments (Mol 2002, Blackman 2008, Ingold/Palsson 2013, Blok/Farías 2016, Meloni et al. 2018; Seeberg et al. 2020). In doing so, they emphasize how bodily processes are permeated by environmental conditions. However, the adequacy of these approaches for the concomitant embodiment and ecological relationality of ‘mental’ experiences has hardly been addressed directly (among the exceptions are Fitzgerald et al. 2016 and Winz 2018). Relatively few ethnographic research projects attend to the mutual constitution of ‘the mental’ and ‘the environmental’ (Amin/Richaud 2020; Bister et al. 2016).
In this panel, we seek to fill this research gap through empirically grounded ethnographic inquiries into ‘mental phenomena’ as part of ‘urban’ life. Our discussion embraces the following conceptual and methodological challenges: How can we grasp elusive aspects of experiences in and of the city as dynamic co-constitutive relations between material environments, cultural practices, subjective experiences, and urban infrastructures? What concepts, methods, and research designs are suitable for combining experience-based approaches (Söderström et al. 2016) with an inquiry in ecologies of expertise (Beck 2015) that shape the urban fabric? What is left of ‘the mental’ if we problematize it ‘environmentally’? How does our research affect how we conceptualize ‘the urban’? Finally, how could our studies inform the design of cities and the crafting of urban cohabitation (Bates et al. 2017)?
The deadline for submissions is March 8th, 2021. Please visit: