2018 04 07 ehu3


2018 04 07 ehu1


2018 04 07 ehu2









Summer  School:Mapping  Visaginas:  Re‐tooling  Knowledge  Infrastructures  in  a  ‘Post‐Nuclear’ Town Organization: Laboratory  of  Critical Urbanism,  European  Humanities  University
Date  &  Place: 18‐31.8  2018,  Vilnius  and  Visaginas,  Lithuania
Target  group:Students  in  urban  studies,  sociology,  geography,  political  science, architecture,  design,  urban  planning,  history,  cultural  studies,  anthropology and  heritage  studies  from  Germany,  Lithuania,  Belarus  and  beyond
Language: English  is  the  common  working  language.  Some  knowledge  of  Lithuanian and/or  Russian  will  be  helpful.
Workload  per  week:  15  h  lectures  and  seminars,  10  h  group  work,  5  h  individual  work
Certificate: 5  ECTS  certificate  will  be  provided  after  handing  in  a  final  paper
Application: CV  (1  page),  Letter  of  Intent  (1  page),  Recommendation  Letter
Fee:Participants  from  German  institutions  850  €,  Participants  from  Lithuanian and  Belarusian  institutions  60  €,  Others  300  €
Costs  covered: Study  materials,  accommodation  in  hostel  /  flats  in  Visaginas  and  Vilnius, joint  breakfasts,  lunches  &  dinners  in  Visaginas,  excursions  in  Vilnius
Scholarships: DAAD  provides  8  GoEast  scholarships  for  German  participants
Support:  German  Academic  Exchange  Service  was  asked  for  support
Info  &  Contact: www.criticalurbanism.org,  Dr.  Benjamin  Cope:  urbanism@ehu.lt

This  project  is  a  continuation  of  the  long‐term  work  of  the  Laboratory  of  Critical  Urbanism  (European Humanities  University,  Vilnius)  on  the  urban  transformations  of  Visaginas,  a  former  ‘nuclear’  town  in  eastern Lithuania.  LCU  has  already  organized  three  DAAD  Summer  Schools  exploring  the  town  and  elaborating scenarios  for  its  future  development  (2015,  2016  and  2017),  and  in  2016  published  the  book  Mapping Visaginas.  Sources  of  Urbanity  in  a  Former  Mono‐functional  Town  (Vilnius  Academy  of  Arts  Press).  These activities  have  led  to  a  fruitful  cooperation  with  local  government,  and  public  and  private  institutions,  as  well  aswith  active  community  members.  The  focus  of  the  2018  Summer  School  is  the  elaboration  of  a  new  concept  for Visaginas  public  library  both  as  institution  and  as infrastructure,  in  its  connection  to  other  institutions  and infrastructures  of  the  town.  The  Summer  School’s  working  formats  are  lectures,  seminars,  workshops  and supervised  fieldwork.  It  is  open  to  students  of  urban  studies,  sociology,  geography,  political  science, architecture,  design,  urban  planning,  history,  cultural  studies,  anthropology,  and  heritage  studies  with  a  strong interest  in  problem‐based  interdisciplinary  research  work.

Visaginas  today  is  a  specific  case  of  urban  transformation,  where  the  loss  of  the  town’s  identity  is caused  not  only  by  the disappearance  of  the  town’s  sole  industry  (due  to  the  closure  of  the  Ignalina  Nuclear Power  Plant  in  2009),  but  also  by  the disruption  of  the  town’s  position  within  a  wider  set  of  knowledge infrastructures.  Visaginas  was  built  from  scratch  in  Soviet  Lithuania  in  the 1970s  and  1980s  as  one  of  the locations  in  a  technological  and  professional  network,  created  by  the  USSR  nuclear  ministry, euphemistically termed  the  Ministry  of  Medium  Machine  Building.  As  satellite  town  of  the  Ignalina  Nuclear  Power  Plant,  it  was, together  with  Leningrad,  Chernobyl  and  Smolensk,  one  of  the  four  nodes  of  the  USSR’s  North‐West  United Power  System.  This  USSR - wide  ministry  network  implied  an  exceptional  mode  of  urbanization.  It  was characterized  by  constant,  centrally  planned  technology, research  and  workforce  exchange  between  its different  locations;  by  technocratically  governed  and  disciplined  settlements  (the  towns  and power  plants  were governed  as  a  unit,  with  the  governing  bodies  composed  mainly  of  nuclear  scientists  and  engineers);  as  well  as by  a  high  quality  of  housing,  public  buildings,  welfare  provision,  commodity  availability  and  a  high  level  of integration  with  nature.  Both  INPP  and  Visaginas  were  almost  impenetrable  exclaves  for  the  local  Lithuanian population  and  institutions:  until  1991  they  belonged  to  the Ministry  of  Medium  Machine  Building  and  not  to the  Lithuanian  Soviet  Socialist  Republic.  In  this  vein,  the  INPP  was  the  sole  source  of  the  production  and  control of  meanings  of  what  the  town  is  for  in  the  context  of  the  USSR,  whose  Cold  War  period  influence  on  the  globe was  largely  enabled  by  nuclear  technology.  Thus,  the  INPP  was  not  just  the  only  source  of  jobs  and  revenue, but  also  was  central  to  the  town’s  knowledge  infrastructure,  i.e.  a  “robust  network  of  people,  artifacts  and institutions  that  generate,  share,  and  maintain  specific  knowledge  about  the  human  and  natural  worlds”  (Edwards,  2010).

Since  the  closure  of  the  INPP,  Visaginas  is  generally  regarded  through  a  conventional  lens  of  de-industrialization.  This  lens  needs  to  be  widened  and  further  refined.  On  the  one  hand,  from  the  late  1980s hostility  to  a  locally  unaccountable  INPP  was  a  central  factor  in  practices  and  discourses  aimed  at  regaining Lithuanian  state  sovereignty.  These  events  indicate  how  Visaginas  was  not  simply  a  locus  of  industrial production:  in  this  town,  techniques  of  production  were  and  are  imbricated  in  wider  geopolitical configurations.  On  the  other  hand,  the  ‘post‐nuclear’  town  of  Visaginas  has  soon  become  a  dull  theme,  reduced to  a  notion  of  a  post‐Soviet  rupture  that  has  happened  once  and  forever.  However,  the  question  remains  as  to whether,  from  the  perspective  of  urban  scale  processes,  the  decommissioning  of  nuclear  technology  should  be termed  de‐industrialization.  Firstly,  the  work  of  the  nuclear  industry,  based  primarily  on  control  and surveillance  rather  than  production  line  manufacture,  itself  asks  a  question  of  how  labour  relates  to  science.

Second,  it  will  take  a  lot  of  time  and  skilled  efforts  to  dismantle  the  technology  –  in  the  case  of  INPP,  this  work is  expected  to  be  done  by  2038  only  and  requires  around  2000  relatively  well  paid  jobs.  And  thirdly,  some  types of  nuclear  waste  require  thousands  of  years  of  professional  management.  For  the  social  sciences  and  urban planning,  this  provokes  a  need  for  a  thorough  understanding  and  deliberate  reconfiguration  of  industry-city‐community  relations  beyond  the  rupture  ‘before/after  industry  closure’,  and  therefore beyond  conventional approaches  in  studies  of  de-industrialization. The  dilemmas  currently  facing  Visaginas,  most  actively  discussed  by  the  town’s  community  and governance  structures,  are  mainly  about  the  town’s  new  identity  and  economic  specializations.  In  essence,  this concerns  the  destruction  of  the  hermetic  relations  between  the  town  and  the  INPP,  and  the  creation  and strengthening  of  new,  town‐oriented  governance  and  production  structures.  Although  INPP  will  remain  a crucial  techno-political  factor  for  many  years  ahead,  it  is  becoming  less  central  in  giving  sense  both  to  life  in town,  and  to  the  town’s  relations  to  the  outside.  In  this  respect,  LCU’s  project  argues  that  a  crucial  dimension of  the  current  transformation  is  the  development  of  new  knowledge  infrastructures  in  the  town.  This dimension  unfolds  as  addressing  the  question:  via  which  combinations  of  artifacts,  formats,  institutions  and spaces  will  the  Visaginas  community  publicly  produce  knowledge  for  and  about  itself  in  the  course  of  the transforming  of  its  ties  with  the  INPP,  and  its reconfiguration  as  a  municipal  unit  within  the  Lithuanian  nation state.

The  Summer  School’s  projects  are  expected  to  produce  and  discuss  formats  to  generate,  organize  and represent  knowledge  about  different  aspects  of  Visaginas  as  a  still  transforming  former  USSR  Ministry  of Medium  Machine  Building  town,  but  with  INPP  as  no  longer  its  sole  purpose‐giving  factor.  The  summer  school will  focus  on  Visaginas  public  library  as  one  of  the  crucial  institutions,  where  a  new  patterning  of  producing knowledge  about  the  town  can  be  publicly  developed.  Framing  the  library  as  a  knowledge  infrastructure,  and not  just  as  an  archive,  or  as  a  service  provider,  is  promising  especially  today  when,  under  the  influence  of  digital innovation,  changes  of  relations  between  actors,  artifacts,  technologies,  institutions  and  resulting  knowledge are  quick  and  profound.  The  effects  of  these  changes  are  only  slowly  being  comprehended  and  experimentally addressed  in  urban  planning  and  design.  In  this  context,  libraries  often  turn  out  to  be  institutions  that  are  at the  forefront  of  such  design  experimentations.  Grounding  this  experimentation  in  urban‐scale  specific processes  provides  instruments  to  work  with  the  ‘knowledge  society’  notion  as  localized,  i.e.  through  exploring how  local  layers  of  infrastructures  for  producing,  ordering  and  disseminating  knowledge  relate  to  those  that existed  previously.