Playgrounds and Battlefields

Playgrounds and Battlefields
International Intensive Seminar: 19-22 February 2013

Director: Siobhan Kattago

Program managers: Francisco Martínez and Klemen Slabina.

Student coordinator: Tuuli Piirsalu,

Invited speakers include: Dita Bezdičková (Masaryk University); Marcos Ferreira (Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, ISCSP); Tom Frost (Newcastle University); Helena Holgersson (University of Gothenburg); Madli Maruste (Goldsmith University of London); Oleg Pachenkov (Centre of Independent Social Research of St. Petersburg); Jekaterina Lavrinec (Laboratory for Critical Urbanism of Vilnius); Kevin Ryan (National University of Ireland, Galway); Alessandro Testa (University of Messina); Samo Tomšič (Humboldt University of Berlin). Also the locally based researchers: Simon Barker, Carlo Cubero, Maroš Krivý, Andres Kurg, Patrick Laviolette, Aliine Lotman, Mihhail Lotman, Daniele Monticelli, Kristina Norman, Iie-Mall Püüa, Jaanika Puusalu, Olga Razuvajeva and Terje Toomistu, will moderate, respond or animate certain discussion sessions as part of this seminar.


Supported by the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Art, the idea of this initiative is to run an intensive seminar on the possible uses of the Playground as a metaphor to analyse contemporary social phenomena (from transformations, to revolutions and normalisations).

19 February.

19.30 Welcoming words and dinner in NoKu (Pikk 5, first floor). Meeting at 19.00 in the hall of the hotel for foreign participants.

20 February, Wednesday (Room M-648)

10.00 – 10.30 LECTURE by Kevin Ryan (National University of Ireland, Galway). Governing the freedom to choose: biosocial power and the playground as a ‘school of conduct’.

10.30 – 10.50 DISCUSSION led by Daniele Monticelli (Tallinn University).

10.50 – 11.20 LECTURE by Tom Frost (Newcastle University). Play, Repetition and Testimony: Meditations on Death and Truth.

11.20 – 11.40 DISCUSSION led by Simon Barker (University of Tartu).

11.40 – 11.55 Coffee break

11.55 – 12.25 LECTURE by Siobhan Kattago (Tallinn University). All the world’s a stage… or a cage?

12:25 – 12.45 DISCUSSION led by Marcos Ferreira (Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, ISCSP).

12.45 – 14.00 Lunch (for registered participants).

(Room M-648)

14.00 – 14.40 SEMINAR Jaanika Puusalu (Tallinn University). Alienation and the brandless community: big kids in the sandbox. DISCUSSION led by Klemen Slabina.

14.40 – 15.20 SEMINAR Dita Bezdičková (Masarik University). Research as a Game of Love. DISCUSSION led by Madli Maruste (Goldsmith University of London).

15.20 – 16.00 SEMINAR Alessandro Testa (University of Messina). Exploring the Power Dimensions of Festivals. DISCUSSION led by Madli Maruste.

16.00 – 16.15 Coffee break

16.15 – 17.00 SYMPOSIUM of graduate students to present and discuss their current research work. Led by Dita Bezdičková, Francisco Martínez, Klemen Slabina and Alessandro Testa.

(Room M-218)

17.00 – 19.00 FILM SEMINAR: Takenland (La Toma, 2011) Presented by its director: Marcos Ferreira.

21 February, Thursday (M-648)

10.00 – 10.30 LECTURE by Marcos Ferreira (Technical University of Lisbon). Thou Shalt Not Fail To Do Good: Humanitarian Arenas as Playgrounds of the Soul.

10.30 – 10.50 DISCUSSION led by Kevin Ryan (National University of Ireland, Galway).

10.50 – 11.20 LECTURE by Helena Holgersson (University of Gothenburg). The Urban Geography of Swedish Non-Citizenship.

11.20 – 11.40 DISCUSSION led by Carlo Cubero (Tallinn University).

11.40 – 11.55 Coffee break

11.55 – 12.25 LECTURE by Samo Tomšič (Humboldt University). Some Remarks on Foucault and Anti-Oedipus.

12:25 – 12.45 DISCUSSION led by Tom Frost (Newcastle University).

12.45 – 14.00 Lunch (for registered participants).

(Room M-648)

14.00 – 14.30 SEMINAR Kristina Norman (Estonian Academy Arts). 0,8 Square Metres. DISCUSSION led by Siobhan Kattago.

14.30 – 15.00 SEMINAR Olga Razuvajeva (Tallinn University). Being the other in Ottoman Empire XVI Century. DISCUSSION led by Dita Bezdičková.

15.00 – 15.30 SEMINAR Teerje Toomistu (University of Tartu). Playground love: street-nightlife and self-expression of the waria in Indonesia. DISCUSSION led by Dita Bezdičková.

15.30 – 15.45 Coffee break

15.45 – 16.15 SEMINAR Aliine Lotman (Tallinn University) Dumpster Diving in Barcelona. DISCUSSION led by Francisco Martínez.

16.15 – 16.45 SEMINAR Iie-Mall Püüa (Estonian Academy of Arts). The capability of non-governmental initiative in shaping urban environments. DISCUSSION led by Francisco Martínez.

17.15 – 18.45 FIELD VISIT to the Linnahall arena (Lenin Palace of Sport and Culture) led by Andres Kurg (Estonian Academy of Arts), Patrick Laviolette and Francisco Martínez. Contested City-Spaces, VISIT & DISCUSSION at the concert hall.

22 February, Friday (M-648)

10.00 – 10.30 LECTURE by Oleg Pachenkov (Centre of Independent Social Research of St. Petersburg) Flea market and urban theatricality (case study of Berlin Mauerpark).

10.30 – 10.45 DISCUSSION led by Patrick Laviolette (Tallinn University)

10.45 – 11.15 LECTURE Francisco Martínez (Tallinn University). Post-socialist Species of Spaces.

11.15 – 11.30 DISCUSSION led by Andres Kurg (Estonian Academy of Arts).

11.30 – 11.45 Coffee break

11.45 – 12.10 LECTURE by Madli Maruste (Goldsmith University of London). Children of Freedom. Ethnic and national identity of young Estonians.

12.10 – 12.25 DISCUSSION led by Helena Holgersson (University of Gothenburg).

12.25 – 12.50 LECTURE by Jekaterina Lavrinec (Laboratory for Critical Urbanism of Vilnius). Lost, Found and Shared items. Urban Tactics and Users Experience of Public Space.

12.50 – 13.05 DISCUSSION led by Maroš Krivý (Estonian Academy of Arts).

13.05 – 14.15 Lunch (for registered participants).

(Room M-648)

14.15 – 14.40 LECTURE by Klemen Slabina (Tallinn University). Playground. The Range of a Metaphor.

14.40 – 15.00 DISCUSSION led by Samo Tomšič (Humboldt University).

15:15 – 17:00 PLENARY SESSION on the scope of the humanities within the contemporary social setting. CHAIR Siobhan Kattago. PARTICIPANTS: Carlo Cubero, Marcos Ferreira, Tom Frost, Helena Holgersson, Maroš Krivý, Andres Kurg, Patrick Laviolette, Jekaterina Lavrinec, Mihhail Lotman, Danielle Monticelli, Oleg Pachenkov, Kevin Ryan and Samo Tomšič.

In Kino Sõprus (Vana-posti 8)

18.00 – 20.30 FILM SEMINAR: “Night on Earth” (Jim Jarmusch, 1991). PRESENTATION by Oleg Pachenkov: Observing the Observer. The Taxi Driver as a Sociologist.


Dita Bezdičková is a PhD. candidate at Masaryk University in Brno. Her main interest lies in cultural sociology, the study of mobilities [of people, objects and ideas], and dialogical research methodologies.

Carlo A. Cubero (PhD.) is an Associate Professor of Social & Cultural Anthropology at Tallinn University. His previous research has focused on themes of Caribbean tourism development, the use of audiovisual media in anthropological research, construction of Caribbean island identities, tourism, and Caribbean music. In 2007, Cubero completed a feature length ethnographic documentary called “Mangrove Music”, which has been screened in 10 international film festivals. For the past 2 years, he has been working on producing an ethnographic documentary on migrant musicians that travel continuously between Western Europe and West Africa.

Marcos Ferreira is Assistant Professor with Tenure at the School of Social and Political Sciences (Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, ISCSP) where he directs the Observatory for Human Security (OSH) – a research and action project.

Tom Frost is a Lecturer in Law at Newcastle University, UK. He received a doctorate from the University of Southampton on the thought of Giorgio Agamben and its relation to law and legal reasoning.

Helena Holgersson has a PhD in Sociology and works as a researcher and a teacher at the Department of Cultural Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Siobhan Kattago is Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at Tallinn University. She is the author of Ambiguous Memory: The Nazi Past and German National Identity (Praeger) and Memory and Representation in Contemporary Europe. The Persistence of the Past (Ashgate). She is currently working on the “Ashgate Research Companion to Memory Studies”.

Maroš Krivý is Invited Professor of Urban Studies at the Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts. In 2012, he obtained PhD degree in Urban Studies from University of Helsinki. Maroš also holds degrees in Sociology (MA, Charles University in Prague) and Photography (BA, Silesian University in Opava). His recent work includes “Don’t plan! The use of the notion of ‘culture’ in transforming obsolete industrial space“ (2012), published in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and “Industrial architecture and negativity: the aesthetics of architecture in the works of Gordon Matta-Clark, Robert Smithson and Bernd and Hilla Becher“ (2010), published in The Journal of Architecture. Currently, Maros is co-organizing the conference Between Architecture of War and Military Urbanism, which will be held in Tallinn in April 2013. He has also practice in art and artistic research. He participated in the Sense of Place exhibition at BOZAR, Brussels (2012) and his solo exhibitoin New Coat of Paint was presented in Krakow (2011) and it will be presented in Tallinn in 2013.

Andres Kurg is an architectural historian and researcher at the Institute of Art History of Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn. His research looks at architecture and design in Soviet Union in the late 1960s and 1970s in relation to technological transformations and changes in everyday life, as well as in its intersections with alternative art practices. He has published articles in Journal of Architecture, Interiors, A Prior Magazine, Kunstiteaduslikke Uurimusi – Studies on Art and Architecture and contributed to exhibition catalogues on post-Socialist urban transformations and spatial conflicts. Together with Mari Laanemets he has coedited and authored Environment, Projects, Concepts. Architects of the Tallinn School 1972–1985 (Estonian Museum of Architecture, 2008) and curated “Our Metamorphic Futures. Design, Technical Aesthetics and Experimental Architecture in the Soviet Union 1960-1980” in Vilnius National Gallery (2011-2012).

Patrick Laviolette is the author of Extreme Landscapes of Leisure (Ashgate) and The Landscaping of Metaphor and Cultural Identity (Peter Lang). He holds a Masters in human ecology from the University of Edinburgh and a Ph.D. in anthropology from University College London. In 2012 he took up a short term fellowship for visiting scholars at Yale University’s Centre for British Art. He sits on the conference committees for SIEF 2013 (Tartu Ülikooli), EASA 2014 (TLÜ) and various editorial boards including TLÜ Press’ Bibliotheca Anthropologica book series.

Jekaterina Lavrinec is a Vilnius-based researcher in the field of urban and media studies. She received a PhD in philosophy from Vilnius University in 2008. She teaches courses in urban studies at the European Humanities University and Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. She also facilitates workshops focusing on the creative re-interpretation of public space. Researching the topics of the emotional cityscape and the problematics of public space. She is a participant in the Laboratory for Critical Urbanism in Vilnius. She is also a co-founder of the creative group Laimikis. lt whose goal it is to revitalize “lost” public places by bringing together young urban activists, architects, researchers, and photographers to document street style, make urban interventions, and arrange urban games.

Mihhail Lotman is a professor of semiotics and literary theory at Tallinn University. His main research fields include semiotics, text theory and history of Russian literature. He has published over 80 articles and several books in Estonian and Russian.

Francisco Martínez is a PhD candidate in the Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University. He holds a degree in International Economy and Cooperation to Development (MA, Higher Institute of Economy, Lisbon) and two postgraduate certificates in Russian Studies (Moscow School of Diplomacy MGIMO and St. Petersburg State University). He has been also employed as a journalist in Berlin, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Istanbul and Lisbon, publishing over 500 articles and producing 140 video reports and 40 radio programs.

Madli Maruste is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Urban and Community Research (CUCR), Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London. She did her MA at the Department of Semiotics and Theory of Culture in the University of Tartu, Estonia, focusing on the Semiotics of Architecture and Urban Space. In her PhD she is looking at the ethnic identity of the urban Estonian young people focusing on the new Post-Soviet hybrid-identities. Her research interest is in identity and ethnicities, multiculturalism, urban citizenship, social exclusion, post-Soviet social and cultural transformations and urban culture.

Daniele Monticelli is Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Semiotics at Tallinn University where he chairs the Department of Romance Studies. He took his PhD (2008) in Semiotics at Tartu University with a thesis on the nature of theoretical constructions in semiotics, philosophy and political theory. His fields of research include philosophy of language, contrastive linguistics, translation theory, literary semiotics and political philosophy.

Oleg Pachenkov is an acting director of a state-independent research institute, the Centre for independent social research (CISR, St.-Petersburg, Russia) and a director of the Centre for applied research (CAR) at European University at St.-Petersburg. He received his Doctor degree (Candidate of Science in sociology) at the Sociology department of St.-Petersburg State University in 2009. Currently he is working mainly in the fields of urban studies and interdisciplinary art and social science projects. In 2006 he won a German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has published more than 30 articles in Russian English, German and Danish.

Jaanika Puusalu holds an MA in philosophy from Tallinn University. Her current research interests focus upon the structure of inclusion and exclusion and the continuing relevance of alienation in contemporary society.

Kevin Ryan is a lecturer in the School of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway. He is the author of Social Exclusion and the Politics of Order (2007, MUP), and his most recent research on power and childhood is published in the Journal of Political Power, Critical Sociology, and Childhood.

Klemen Slabina (1979) is a PhD candidate at the Department of Philosophy, Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University. He holds a Master of Science degree in Sociology of Culture, obtained at the Department of Sociology and Sociology of Culture, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. He is a philosophy teacher at university and high-school level, and an educational methods specialist.

Alessandro Testa is an European Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology with a former education in Classics (Liceo Classico), History (B.A.) and History of Religions (M.A.). He is the author of a book and of a conspicuous number of papers published in international journals. He has also presented his researches in numerous lectures and oral contributions.

Samo Tomšič is Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Institute for German Literature (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and researcher at the Institute of Philosophy SRC SASA (Ljubljana, Slovenia). His main research areas are psychoanalysis, structuralism and contemporary French philosophy. His book on philosophical implications of Lacan’s final teaching was published in Ljubljana in 2011, and he is currently writing another one on Lacan’s reading of Marx. He also translated works by Immanuel Kant (Precritical writings), Sigmund Freud (Jokes and their relation to the unconscious), Alain Badiou (Conditions), Quentin Meillassoux (After finitude) and others.

Terje Toomistu is an Estonian author and anthropologist, whose main interests are various cross-cultural processes, culturally framed meanings, gender, queer and memory studies. She is a PhD student in University of Tartu, Estonia, in the department of Ethnology. She holds double MA degrees (cum laude) in Ethnology and in Media and Communication. Her research themes are often framed by phenomenological sociology and interpretive anthropology. She is one of the authors of the independent feature length documentary Wariazone (, which discursively explores the notion of transgender in Indonesia and relations between gender identity and freedom.

Synopsis of the film: Takenland (La Toma) is a film that explores the social tensions in contemporary Nicaragua by witnessing the creation of a new community. The occupation of lands in the outskirts of main towns is a crucial source of social tensions and social marginality but it is also the source of a new kind of social organization, as well as inclusiveness and hope of a better life for many people. A year after the occupation of private land in the area of La Chiriza, one of the peripheries of town, the new settlers organize themselves and try to legalize their claim for property rights.

Takenland (La Toma) assumes the double edged and paradoxical nature of this phenomenon and sets out to unveil it through the interaction of the camera with the community, people’s stories, dreams and frustrations. The camera witnesses the creation of a new community, new forms of social organization and interest accommodation and the daily strategies to forge coexistence. Takenland is the story of land occupation in contemporary Nicaragua, where property and its legality are contested daily and are at the centre of social tensions and inequities. But it is also the story of day-to-day conflict resolution and the struggle for a life worth living.