An international conference at Oxford friday 10 october - sunday 12 october 2008
With a point of departure in Emile Durkheim’s social realism the first part of the essay reassesses the idea of liveable in its relationship to morality and social solidarity. On the one side, Durkheim’s work proceeds within a positive science of morality; society must be studied as fact sui generis regardless of what we wish it should be. On the other side, his work is guided by a claim to universalism; it is marked by ‘the tension of how to retain, but in a renovated form, cosmopolitanism’s original universalism’ (Chernilo 2007; Fine and Boon 2007). The essay argues that ‘glimpses of cosmopolitanism’ are a world-scale phenomenon which today shows itself in liveable cities as emergent realities somewhere ‘in between’ individuals and social institutions. If cosmopolitanism opens new horizons for being in the world, one field in which this project is being actively pursued is that of architecture. Architects have more than any other profession worked on, and with, the urban condition theoretically as well as practically and solution-oriented. Returning Japanese architects have been confronted with the art of rebuilding cities from the bottom, not least in the case of Tokyo . The second part of the essay centres on a second generation of Japanese architects to mature after World War II. They share a critique of the International Schools anti-tradition and points to a heritage from the seventeenth-century metropolis of Edo (1600-1867); regardless of massive urban destructions present day’s Tokyo is marked by a non-visible hidden order of this historical era. It is an order that opens for methodological strategies to make possible the empirical understanding of urban society as emergent reality. They go for learning from Tokyo with a historical privilege to particular ideas of places of urban sociability. But whereas one school - ‘the city planning’ or ‘anti-city planning’ - is in look after places linked to community through local culture, another one - - detects the in-between places of urban sociability that run outwards. At these places society shows itself as emergent realities ‘somewhere ‘in between’ individuals and social institutions: society coincides neither with but equally it cannot be thought of as totally independent of either’.
Main Research Area:
The Search for Solidarity: 150 years after the birth of Emile Durkheim : The British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, Oxford University, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology is planning an international conference with the intention to adress issues of solidarity in the present-day as well as in Durkheim's own time.Anni Greve is invited guest speaker, 2008