New Cultural Geography [Neue deutsche Kulturgeographie – NKG] XIV in Bayreuth, Germany

26.28. Januar 2017, University of Bayreuth

Priorities, irritations, relevance: what is to be done?

Call for papers

New cultural geographical research and teaching, in German-speaking contexts as elsewhere, has lately been put into question regarding not only its relevance but also its prioritisations and the responsibilities that come with these. These questions have also been, yet only implicitly, put forward and discussed in preceding New Cultural Geography conferences (e.g. Frankfurt 2007, Hamburg 2012, Graz 2016). The NKG XIV aims to provide a platform for critical reflection on the issue of relevance, priorities and the potential to provoke and unsettle our understandings of these issues.

The call for relevance, in terms of economic applicability and added value, is omnipresent in times of neoliberal realignment in academia. Not only due to these calls, it seems to be highly important to foster a critical understanding of these processes of reorientation within academia, human and new cultural geography.

For a long time, the NKG has been understood as a critique of hegemonic approaches, such as, positivistic and universalistic avenues as well as of approaches that follow dominant development paradigms. However, since its arrival in the mainstream of German-speaking human geography, the question has arisen of how much potential for it still has to unsettle German-speaking human geography as a whole. The discussion about the relevance of (new) cultural geographical research strategies can thus also be understood as an attempt to scrutinise the prioritisations within germanophone new cultural geography as well as in its adjacent disciplines. Here, we think, for instance, of the neglect of sociopoloitical topics such as racism, migration or injustice, or the emphasis upon theoretical approaches at the expense of empirically-led research.

We therefore call for papers that tackle one or more of the following questions:

  • What is relevant to whom, where, when and why? Who or what decides, which range of topics, which theories, which questions and problems should be prioritised and are worth dealing with, and which can be put aside? What are the role in these priorisations of the labour and production conditions in our own academic fields?
  • If relevance is constantly produced and reproduced, is there a legitimate ‚relevance of irrelevance‘?
  • What is the relationship between theory and empirics and what kinds of more local relevance can they have?
  • What contributions can be made not only by drawing, often belatedly, from hegemonic debates in the Anglophone social and cultural studies but also from traditions of thought of other geographical contexts?
  • What role do (or should) non-academic actors, forms of knowledge and practices play when it comes to the production of ‚relevant‘ knowledge?
  • What kind of potentials and challenges do the insights and analytical methods of new cultural geography hold for didactic praxis and educational strategies in schools and universities?

We welcome all contributions that take up one or more of these questions in an analytical, critical, provocative, or illustrative ways. Furthermore, as always, we also welcome papers that deal with more or less adjacent topics.

Please submit summaries of proposed contributions (400 words) before the 31.10.2016 to These can also be detailed suggestions for sessions (including the necessary material: readings, clips, performances, etc.), panel discussions, posters or other forms both in German as well as in English. We inform you about the admission of your contribution until the beginning of December 2016. Participants in need of childcare during the conference time, please indicate.

You can register for the conference from the beginning of November 2016 onwards. The conference  takes place at the Iwalewahaus as well as on the Campus of the Unversity of Bayreuth. It begins on Thursday, 26th of January 2017, at approx. 6 pm and ends on Sunday, 28th of January, at approx. 3 pm. Besides a panel discussion about the conference’s superordinate topic and various session, we are pleased to announce that Gillian Rose (The Open University) will be giving a keynote lecture.

The conveners of the 14th NKG

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