The NSU Summer Gathering Proceedings

So I am currently participating in the Nordic Summer University conference – organized this year in the astoundingly beautiful Saulkrasti, near Riga, in Latvia. The place is a tiny and peaceful coastal town with stunning views of the Baltic Sea. This year’s gathering has around 170 participants from various countries around Europe and elsewhere, with emphasis on the Nordic academia as usual.

Many students are joining in from the Baltic countries as well this year, with also a few from Russia.

The Nordic Summer University, or NSU for short, is a nomadic network for interdisciplinary research, operating in the Nordic and Baltic region.

The summer conferences have been organized ever since the 1950’s, and this organization is the oldest academic, independent co-operation body in the Nordic countries.

The summer conference kicked off already earlier this week. I arrived here yesterday myself after spending a few days by myself in Vilnius first, so I have not yet had the chance to hear more than just a few presentations at my study circle. I am very much looking forward to hearing many more excellent ones still during the following days.

I am taking part in the ongoing study circle “Appearances of the Political”, curated by Carsten Friberg and Raine Vasquez. This year, we are focusing in-depth on the theme of “Action and Activism”.

Here is how the theme was described by the organizers of the conference in the original CFP:

Since the 1960s the active forms of the political have been manifold, from marches, demonstrations interventions, and happenings, to more radical forms such as occupations – and even violent forms such as terrorism.

In recent years, we have witnessed a revitalisation of mass movements through use of internet and social media, including the creation of new movements like Occupy and Indignados, and new activities like the hacktivism of Anonymous. In relation to the environment, we find guerrilla gardening along with local protests against corporate use of natural resources, engaging people across traditional political groupings.

Many forms of activism also face political resistance defining – or redefining – the political space that is threatening democratic rights with agendas of terrorism, challenging or reshaping the space for political activism.

I have had an excellent time here! I think many people who have a vested interested in these topics would benefit from taking part in an NSU Session at some point of their academic careers. The NSU is a very special organization in the sense that it forms an independent, nomadic body of academics.

We need institutions like these now more than ever, as many Nordic and Baltic countries are facing substantial cuts in the budgets of the historically preceding, established academic organizations.

My own presentation will take place next Monday afternoon. The upcoming presentation is entitled “On Contemporary Infrastructure and Activism – Extrastatecraft and The Fate of Art in the Age of Terror”. Below is a link to the published presentation – just in case you are interested in reading it.

https://www.academia.edu/34071366/On_Contemporary_Infrastructure_and_Activism_Extrastatecraft_and_The_Fate_of_Art_in_the_Age_of_Terror

Find out more about the Nordic Summer University by visiting http://nordic.university/ and join in for the next upcoming session by ordering the newsletter!

Appearances of the Political and the NSU

So I’m attending the Nordic Summer University conference this week in Orivesi, Finland, and presented my paper entitled ”The Berlin Wall as a Heterotopian Site – Reflections on the Topology of the Wall as a Tourist Landmark” here yesterday afternoon.

The presentation sparked an intriguing conversation on spatial aesthetics, and I’m happy to be here, as I got very nice feedback on my paper.

The Nordic Summer University, or NSU for short, is a nomadic network for interdisciplinary research, operating in the Nordic and Baltic region.

The summer conferences have been organized ever since the 1950’s, and this organization is the oldest academic, independent co-operation body in the Nordic countries.

At the NSU website, this organization’s mission is currently described as follows, “The NSU fundamentally operates as a generator of ideas. It seeks to develop scholarly and innovative initiatives by building international networks and communities engaged in cross-disciplinary research enquiries and critical thinking. The NSU gives priority to topical subjects of study that are often on the margins of disciplinary boundaries not already established at the universities.”

I attended the winter session of NSU in Oslo last year, and enjoyed the conference as well as visiting Norway. When I got the CFP for this conference by email, I couldn’t resist but to send a proposal for a paper. And I’m really glad I did that, as I got accepted into the “Appearances of the Political” study circle.

The NSU is currently operating 8 thematic study circles, each with the running period of 3 years. As for the “Appearances of the Political” study circle, this is the second session. The circle will convene for another 4 times, 2 times in the winter, 2 times in the summer.

Approximately 120 people from 20 different countries are attending the summer conference this year.

In the “Appearances of the Political” study circle, we have been given presentations on very diverse topics, such as on the aesthetics of yoga, on fashion in relation to politics, on the Estonian “Singing Revolution”, and on feminist literature. There are also artistic activities happening at the premises of the Orivesi Folk High School, and the official program includes a visit to either Tampere or the Mänttä Art Festival.

The keynote speakers of the conference this year are Elizabeth Povinelli and Robert Pfaller.

As I’ve enjoyed my time here, I’m very much looking forward to attending the next winter session too!

Find out more about the NSU by visiting http://nordic.university/

You can also find the abstracts of the presentations given online. I have also published my full paper at the Academia.edu website, just click on the link below for the PDF.

https://www.academia.edu/27150484/The_Berlin_Wall_as_a_Heterotopian_Site_Reflections_on_the_Topology_of_the_Wall_as_a_Tourist_Landmark