Public space—agora—is a fundament for creating social ties between people and cultures, creating common norms and aesthetic forms, as well as inventing new ways of making society. ln our present age, with forces of globalization, displacement of populations and digital communication, the comfort of frontiers is being lost, different parts of the world are becoming more and more interrelated, and people are entering into close encounters, provoking cultural collisions, endemic crises and political disruptions. There is a shared sense of loss in belonging, and society making is becoming a troublesome endeavor. The classical sociological question, What keeps people together? is regaining importance in the global age. Occupation movements, artistic interventions and politics of monuments illustrate the emancipatory and biding potential of the public space.
Public space needs to be recovered as a central tool for social sciences. The project AgorAkademi – Creative lnquiry for Public Space privileges public space to investigate the human condition in modern times. lnquiries into public space are based upon understanding social fabric through the areas of private and public, local and distant, known and unknown, familiar and strange. AgorAkademi is conceived as an assembly for the social sciences, humanities, and the arts to generate a broad and multifaceted field of knowledge that will enhance our comprehension of the foundations of collective life as a process of encounter, exchange, confrontation and creativity.
The AgorAkademi project implies setting new research agendas, changing different spheres of knowledge as well as the organization of knowledge, and impacting other researchers—a process that is both individual and collective. lt aims to create a scientific and creative cosmopolitan agora.
AgorAkademi – Creative Inquiry for Public Space is being led by Nilüfer Göle and is hosted jointly at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and Columbia Global Centers in Paris.
Member of the NOMIS Foundation Board of Directors
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales