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Title: Curating places : civic action, civic learning, and the construction of public spaces
Author: Cowell, Gillian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 2596
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2013
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This research involves understanding the civic learning that emerged from the ways individuals in two civic action groups, Greenhill Historical Society (GHS) in Bonnybridge, a deindustrialised location, and Cumbernauld Village Action for the Community (CVAC) in Cumbernauld Village, a Conservation Area, enacted their citizenship through the spatial (geographical) and temporal (historical) characteristics of their place. I use a citizenship-as-practice conceptualisation, where citizenship is not a status ‘given’ to individuals who have successfully displayed pre-requisite outcomes, but is a continuous and indeterminate practice through exposure to real challenges. To understand the learning occurring for, from and through their practices, I used Biesta’s theory of civic learning (Biesta, 2011). It involves a socialisation conception of civic learning as the adoption of existing civic identities, where individuals adapt to a given political order, and a subjectification conception which focuses on how political agency is achieved. The theory connects learning and action together, where Biesta argues socialisation involves the individual requiring to learn something in order to carry out the ‘correct’ actions in the future; however, subjectification involves action preceding learning, where learning comes second, if at all. I used a case study design and a psychogeographic mapping methodology involving secondary data analysis, psychogeographic mapping interviews and observations. Civic action emerged as a more central component than civic learning through my empirical analysis. The civic actions of GHS emerged as a case of reconsideration (redefining, re-meaning their location through interventions in public), and CVAC of reconfiguration (actions physically altering the landscape). These actions concerning space and time involved spatial shifts from mapreading to mapmaking, and temporal shifts from histories ‘of’ and ‘for’ the public, towards histories ‘by’ the public. Respondents became ‘curators’ of their places: from spectators to participants in making and representing spaces and histories that opened their locations to interruptions of the continuities of time. Attending to practices of citizens with space and time contains possibilities for public pedagogies that work ‘with’ context rather than just ‘in’, towards opening up opportunities for citizens to ‘become public’ as practices that trouble pre-existing arrangements and configurations.
Supervisor: Biesta, G. J. J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: community education ; adult education ; cartography ; public space ; public sphere ; local history ; geography ; post-industrial ; public history ; civic learning ; Cities and towns ; Public spaces