By Inge Zwart and Dydimus Zengenene, Isto Huvila
Every semester, all POEM roads lead to one of the partner institutions across Europe for a one-week intensive week of lectures, seminars and trainings called ‘The Knowledge Hub’. Uppsala University hosted the 3rd Knowledge Hub during the week 16-20 September 2019. The hub comprised two public lectures, two seminars and training in addition to research updates from all fellows. One of the lectures was on Participatory Design and the Collaborative Dimensions of Infrastructuring which was given by Dr Andrea Botero (Aalto University) , and the other was on The discursive-material knot and participatory struggles over memory which was delivered by Dr Nico Carpentier (Charles University Prague). The two lectures were followed by two seminars one on Creating Participation through Research in Digital Media Ecologies, led by Prof. Gertraud Koch and the other on Memory modalities: Informational Approaches led by Prof. Isto Huvila. All fellows were afforded an opportunity to present progress on their 13 PhD research topics.
The lecture by Dr Botero focused on the design and development of several infrastructural initiatives, first providing theoretical explanation of key concepts, she ended her talk using practical examples from her own work. She highlighted the term infrastructurING, which she explained as the distribution or configuration between global, local and social technical elements. Pointing out concepts like gateways, installed bases, reverse salients and path dependencies as well as tensions, she attempts to make infrastructures visible. Only then, we can invite others to collaborate on this through participatory approaches and attention to forms of everyday design. Examples from her own work, diverging from designing co-living arrangements to digital content sharing platforms, gave participants of the Knowledge Hub practical cases to reflect on tensions between the mundane ‘dirty’ work of collaborative projects and its relation to the bigger picture.
Tuesday morning started with Dr Nico Carpentier’s lecture based on his book titled “The discursive-material knot” (Peter Lang 2017). The talk provided a solid base for reflection on the term ‘participation’ from a discourse theory perspective whilst arguing for a better integration of the way the material is related to this. Doing so, we moved from democratic theoretical understandings of participation to the very material elements that guide participatory projects, in relation to access and interaction. Dr. Carpentier concluded by discussing participation through an illustration of the struggles over the memorialization of a Cypriotic historical figure, and how both interactions and participations can offer forms of resistance towards the hegemonic antagonistic ways of remembering.
As an important project deliverable, all fellows presented their research projects, which all had progressed significantly and were entering or had already entered data collection phase. It proved a fruitful opportunity to discuss crucial elements in research design, building on each other’s knowledge and expertise. All fellows showed positive anticipation of the upcoming secondment periods during which they will be accorded an opportunity to work with organizations in the cultural and private sector who are dealing with issues in line with their research topics.
The final part of the event consisted of a 2-day training workshop on Partnership, co-creation and stakeholder communication led by Ursula Holtgrewe (Zentrum für Soziale Innovation, Austria). The training covered different aspects of social innovation, co-creation, stakeholder engagement and impact assessment. Under the professional guidance of Ursula, the fellows collaboratively reflected on these themes, gesturing towards possible applications in their research projects as well as outside of it. Stakeholder mapping and analysing various participatory methods provided a truly hands-on learning experience.
All together, the week felt like a real ‘knowledge hub’ where the network came together to think, work and reflect together. It was a pleasure to host everyone at the department of ALM in Uppsala. As the fellows and supervisors departed preparations for Knowledge Hub IV in Aarhus have already begun. For now, we go back to work refreshed and inspired, and are looking forward to the next opportunity to see each other.