In the Place of the Public Sphere / Publicum. Theorien der Öffentlichkeit

Discussion and book presentation with Gerald Raunig (Wien), Simon Sheik (Malmö), Ulf Wuggenig (Lüneburg)
July 7th, 2005

On the occasion of the appearance of two new publications on theories of the public sphere, the editors present these volumes for discussion:
Simon Sheik (ed.), In the Place of the Public Sphere. Berlin 2005 (B-Books);
Gerald Raunig and Ulf Wuggenig (eds.), Publicum. Theories of the Public Sphere. Vienna 2005 (Turia + Kant).

After a conceptual boom in the 1980s and 1990s, the concept of the public sphere in discursive and political contexts seems on the one hand to be increasingly critically examined, and on the other hand to be out of fashion as a point of reference for emancipatory practices. At the same time, an increasing trend of addressing partial publics/communities has spread in the art field, in which the once emancipatory concept of “culture for all” threatens to pass over into a neoliberal context of customer orientation and audience fetishism.

From a theoretical point of view, the contributions in the two volumes do not move within the scholastic frame of reference of analytical philosophy or the theory of the “deliberative public sphere” in the sense of Habermas, but within that of feminist theory, radical democratic theory, critical sociology, cultural studies, and poststructuralism.

The volume, edited by Simon Sheik, mainly gathers positions from the field of contemporary art (with text contributions by Miwn Kwon, Nils Norman, Bojana Pejic, Stephan Dillemuth, Charles Esche, Marion von Osten, among others). Edited by Gerald Raunig and Ulf Wuggenig, the volume is broad in scope and driven not least by an interest in including neglected or weakly theorized areas of public sphere discourse. The texts cover theories of the public sphere in the narrower sense (by Nancy Fraser, Paolo Virno, Linda Zerilli, Alex Demirovic, Stefan Nowotny, among others), the discourse of art and the public sphere (Oliver Marchart, Jorge Ribalta, Simon Sheik, among others), the topic of media and the public sphere (Jim McGuigan, Craig Craig, Jim McGuigan, and others), and the discourse of the public sphere in the broader sense. Jim McGuigan, Craig Calhoun, Marion Hamm, among others), and finally to nationally and transnationally operating “counterpublics” (George Yudice, Marion Galindo, among others), whereby fundamental problematizations of theories of the public sphere were also considered (Gerald Raunig, among others).

Guests participating in the discussion with the editors Gerald Raunig (philosopher, Vienna), Simon Sheik (art historian, Malmö) and Ulf Wuggenig (sociologist, Lüneburg) are: Antke Engel (philosopher, Hamburg), Kerstin Stakemeier (art historian, Hamburg), Bettina Steinbrügge (art scholar, Lüneburg) and Tanja Thomas (media scholar, Lüneburg).