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City Seminar - Raphael Susewind: Rifah-E Aam Club, Lucknow: Politics and Poetics of Publicness

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Rifah-E Aam Club, Lucknow: Politics and Poetics of Publicness Raphael Susewind, King’s College London

Public space comes under threat, is contested as much as shared, an arena for power and hegemony, leaving little hope for interaction across social divides. Yet while each reincarnation of our fragmented public sphere inscribes public space with distinct meaning, each necessarily builds on historical precedent, inadvertently expanding the scope of the term’s original promise. Over time, this creates iconic infrastructure such as the Rifah-e Aam Club, the “Club for the public good” in Lucknow. From the initial stirrings of associational culture through key moments of the national movement down to today’s goonda raj, or rule of thugs, this unruly space hosted the most unlikely republic of letters. Enter the Habermasian salon of European enlightenment transplanted unto contemporary north India, reuniting what seems irredeemably fragmented and giving hope to urban futures.

The City Seminar, co-convened by the Department of Geography along with the Department of Architecture, explores the theme of ‘Infrastructures of Memory’ this year. A diverse line-up of speakers – including geographers, anthropologists, architects, artists and activists – will examine the various techniques, technologies, rituals, performances and materialities of memory and remembrance, and how they reinforce or subvert prevailing power relations.

This talk is part of the Infrastructural Geographies - Department of Geography series.

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