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Living Rooms | Print |

The research project "Living Rooms: The Art of Mobilizing Belonging(s)" concerns itself with the political mobilization of belonging in Viennese social hosing complexes. The project is financed from the Art(s)&Sciences Call 2009 of the Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF) and has a duration of two years, from May 2010 to May 2012.

Mobilization of Belonging

In the context of migration and cultural diversity, the political mobilization of belonging has become increasingly important. Anti-immigrant political actors gather support on the basis of exclusionary discourses that classify certain groups as not-belonging and use this logic to justify restrictive policies and discriminatory practices. Also at the level of everyday practices, conflicts are increasingly perceived through the lens of ethnic and cultural differences. Against this background, the project sets out to understand how belonging is mobilized in a particular social and spatial setting, and how this mobilization of belonging relates to the maintenance, crossing, or shifting of subjective and emotionally-laden boundaries.

Arts and Sciences

Despite the growing interest in belonging in the scientific literature, the development of a full-fledged analytical framework with a compatible methodology capable of capturing the ‘thick’ aspect of emotions and the anti-essentialist aspect of fluidity and imagination is still lacking. The main objective of the project is to fill this gap by developing an innovative conceptual framework and methodology that joins insights and techniques from the arts and the social sciences to enable us to analyze how the mobilization of belonging and boundary-making processes occur, while taking into account the subjective and emotional aspects of belonging that make it so politically relevant.

The Living Room

A Viennese Gemeindebau (social housing complex) will serve as the field in which we will carry out our empirical research. This will consist in an artistic intervention inside the Gemeindebau, which will serve as a ‘laboratory’ where personal objects (belongings) will be moved around (mobilized) by selected groups of residents in the setting of an artistically created living room. This will allow for a visual representation of belonging, where the objects will serve as a ‘language’ with which the residents of the Gemeindebau will express themselves. This exercise will be followed by a performance where the living rooms produced by each group will be presented to the public and a round table discussion where the dwellers will take part as experts and analyze the experiment together with scientists and artists.

This ‘laboratory’ embodies the interface between arts and sciences, and accounts for the innovative character of the project. It is, at the same time, a physical space, where concrete objects may be arranged and rearranged, and a ‘hypercultural space’, where imaginary boundaries may be crossed, shifted or reinforced. Moreover, it is a space for interaction where artists, scientists and citizens collaborate in the production of knowledge. Developing the ‘laboratory’ into a full-fledged methodology and making it fruitful for both the social sciences and the arts will be a formidable but stimulating challenge.

Social Housing

The empirical research will take place in a number of social housing complexes (Gemeindebauten) in Vienna's fifth district. For more information on the chosen social housing complexes, please click ths menu item 'social housing' on the right-hand side.