New Wave 2015
Stephan Platt (Institute of Geography, University of Mainz)
Gregor Arnold (Institute of Geography, University of Mainz)
The two-day-conference that took place in prague on May 21st and 22nd 2015 was organized by the Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Geographical Institute and included several sessions with visually supported presentations and a poster session. The physical and human geographers came from different countries although majority of speakers was from Czechia. Most of the presentations dealt with a great variety of critical human geographical topics related to different scales, however dominantly embedded in case studies.
The first day started with the opening words of Peter Svoboda (Organizing Committee), dr. Radim Perlín (Czech Geographical Society) and doc. Dagmar Dzúrová (Charles University in Prague). The keynote lecture was held by prof. Susanne Freidberg (Dartmouth College). Starting from a historic perspective, she talked about the environmental footprint of food production and consumption, and discussed the term of freshness as a modern consumer capitalism issue. The following sessions were divided into panels of four topics: labour geography, identity studies, landscape studies, and political geography.
Within the session focused on labour geography: Pavel Šindlář talked about the integration of Japanese immigrants into the labor market and in other areas of life in Czechia; Jan Kříž discussed the employability of geographical studies graduates in the job market; Lenka Pavelková’s presentation was about migrant domestic workers and the question of combining work and family; and Jiří Pánek gave new insights into the emerging field of GeoGames and their playful geography methodology for field trips.
The parallel session about identity studies consisted of four presentations: Ján Fiľakovský talked about the comparison of the Belarusian and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church with regard to the construction of national identity; Daniel Jakubek presented the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia and its influence on the identity of the Moldovan nation; Jan Fric demonstrated his findings on the Palestinian horticultural resistance against the geopolitical realities in the West Bank territory; and Michal Pitoňák talked about processes of queering the public space by (re)constructing/(re)presenting sexual identities in Czechia.
The session devoted to landscape studies showed an emphasis on quantitative methodologies: Thus, Ye Su discussed the feedback of evapotranspiration to soil moisture dynamics and meteorological changes; Peter Kumer talked about small forest landowners in Slovenia; and Jan Vachuda analyzed the increase of permanent grasslands in Czechia according to the evidence showed by LPIS.
The parallel session aiming on political geography also contained three presentations: Michaela Uchočová pointed on the reflection of the Lenin ́s and Stalin ́s cults of personality in the contemporary Russian society; Martin Lepič gave a lecture on contemplating the territoriality of nationalism; and Pavel Doboš presented his empirical studies on imaginative geographies and media representations of distant suffering.
Thursday afternoon was occupied by the field trip that started low within the historic cellars beneath the Prague ́s Old Town Hall and lead up to the chambers and viewpoints of Prague ́s Old Town Hall Tower. The day was ended with very pleasant informal discussions that accompanied the official conference dinner held in the local jazz-restaurant.
The second day started with the invitation by Michal Semian (Organizing Committee) who introduced the second keynote lecture delivered by dr. Michal Veverka (DHI, a.s.). He presented experience and perspectives of practical hydrology on the African continent in the last 40 years. The third keynote lecture was given by dr. Slavomíra Ferenčuhová (Masaryk University in Brno). She concentrated on the controversially debated interdisciplinarity in urban studies. Within the social sciences of the 20th century, boundaries were created to claim „own“ and distinct topics and research fields. In present times, they have become more and more reconnected and refer to each other over boundaries in an interdisciplinary way. The keynote lecture was followed by poster session with 11 displayed posters.
In the session visual studies: Eliška Coufalová talked about the application of the cognitive spatial thinking of pupils within an educational project at a Czech primary school; Martina Tůmová showed that old estate maps can be taken as a source of information about changes in society and landscape; Stephan Platt raised insightful questions on visual landscape constructions as space-image-discourses employing the example of the Middle Rhine Valley; Peter Svoboda focused on the flexibility and localization of work in Czechia.
The parallel session on urban studies consisted of the presentations by: Darina Posová, who talked about the suburban area of Ústí nad Labem as one type of the intensively changed landscapes in the Northwest Bohemia; Tereza Vokurková’s subject was the urbanism of the industrial heritage; Gregor Arnold gave a lecture on the interdependence of online and offline strategies of urban movements against vacancies on the background of the crowdsourcing platform „Leerstandsmelder.de” as a collective and critical mapping tool. His presentation was actively discussed in reference to the local situation in Prague, to different scales in the context of urban and rural spaces, and to the possibility to implement taxes on empty buildings as a political tool against speculative vacancies in urban areas; Martina Nesvadbová’s topic was suburbanization and local governance in their positive and negative forms on the basis of the case study of Olomouc.
The last two parallel sessions focused on territorial studies and transport/migration. In the first panel, Anna Čtvrtníková showed how non-profit organizations can play a vital role in the future of tourism in the Giant Mountains; Veronika Dumbrovská talked about souvenirs and commodification in the tourism sector of Prague; and Štěpán Nosek’s topic was the territorial dimension in EU member states.
In the second panel, Lukáš Báča talked about the possible future of the Brno-Tuřany airport; Jiří Dujka presented the possibilities of the sustainable mobility plan of the Brno urban region; Václav Jaroš talked about the conceptualization and delimitation of transport exclusion; and Markéta Blažejovská showed the view of policy makers over chances to manage migration; Kristýna Peychlová’s presentation was about migrant civic engagement and its relation to „belonging“. The ensuing discussion stressed on the two last lectures dealing with migration topics under the current theoretical concepts of emotional geography, too.
Overall, the presentations showed fascinating and interesting issues of physical and human geography. The discussion on the 7th NEW WAVE international conference was very fruitful and stimulating and the accessory program carried on the good atmosphere.
NEW WAVE 7th photos – for download click HERE.
The conference is organized within the financial support of Specific university research project SVV no. 260199 "Research into transformation of Czechia’s sociogeographic and demographic reality in European and global context."