The major idea of the Summer School is to deliberately ground the practices of cultural dentity building and exchange via language within the urban scale, and not within the scale of the nation-state, as has usually been done. Although the nation-state is apparently a much more rigid and exclusive spatial unit, it is still the most popular reference point for thinking and formulating issues of difference and co-existence in research and civil society agendas. However if we take the urban milieu, as opposed to that of the nation-state, as a reference point for the intersections between language and identity, does it change our conception of multiculturalism and of the programs aimed at promoting the peaceful and mutually enriching coexistence of different ethnic or national cultures in one spatial unit? If yes, then how do the features of the chosen spatial unit, as both a geographical and historical phenomenon, put limits on and open up possibilities for variable relations between language and identity?

This overall conception is structured and specified through working groups that will be organized around the research and re-programming of one particular topic during the week of the School. A multidimensional approach is supposed to be ensured by the possibility of using different types of media instruments during the research: photography, audio, mapping, small-scale performative planning, etc. During the week-long period of the School, alongside the work of research groups conducted by tutors, workshops and discussions with media experts will be organized to help participants store, structure and present their research.

The topics that will be covered by research groups during the week-long series of intensive workshop, lectures and field work include the following:

1. Tourism

People from a variety of different countries travel to visit the single destination of the city of Vilnius. However, depending on one’s place of origin these visits have different motivations, use different modes of transport, privilege different locations within the city and have varied economic and symbolic significance for different spaces within the city. Equally, depending on visitors’ countries of origin, Vilnius is presented in different ways on guided tours, in the infrastructure of the city, on the internet and in various media in visitors’ home environments. This working group will focus on visitors from Belarus and Poland (but not only) to explore what the practices of different groups visiting Vilnius reveal about the role that tourism plays (and might play) in constructing the cultural and linguistic identity of the city.

2. Lost, Found and Shared Items: scenarios for interactions

Exploring scenarios of social interactions in public space, the workshop focuses on forms of communication which emerge around lost, found and shared items and which establish temporal multicultural solidarities. We will examine how citizens deal with found objects and how spontaneous places for sharing emerge in the city. We will consider what tools for mutual assistance citizens develop in public spaces and neighbourhood areas. We will explore types of lost and found announcements and will consider what forms of interaction they initiate in public space. Together with the participants we will develop playful scenarios of interaction with passers-by through the traditional format of multilingual street (lost and found) announcements. We will also produce a series of art interventions in public space, encouraging citizens to take part in the playful process of searching for objects (even the most peculiar ones) and sharing them. Depending on the interest of participants, we will also arrange places for object sharing in the city.

3. The industry and community of ‘Russian pop’ in Vilnius

This group will explore the relations between the ecology, resources, functions and imagery of ‘Russian pop’ in Vilnius. If ‘Russian pop’ is a genre, will there be variations in its reception depending on geography? What are the properties of this genre in Vilnius? Why and how has ‘Russian pop’ survived the broad cultural-political shift to Lithuanian sovereignty after 1991? What constitutes its difference from, let us say, ‘Disco Polo’ in the Vilnius cultural configuration? To what extent is it an ethnic music in Lithuania? What are the spatial nodes of distribution and consumption of this music and its culture? What kind of habitat do they imply? Is there something like a ‘Russian pop’ lifestyle in Vilnius? Are there regularities in the ways certain types and models of spatial design are appropriated by and mashed up with certain sounds, like those of ‘Russian pop’?

4. Urban Texts

The very center of Vilnius as well as so called ‘sleeping districts’ are thickly covered with legal and illegal urban inscriptions – symbols and words written on all the possible surfaces of the city. From the mixed languages of graffiti to popular images of outdoor advertising, from urban poetry written on the sidewalk to swearwords carved on random objects in public space, urban texts are fragments of multilingual narratives about places, people and particularly about the multifaceted (national, linguistic, class, gender, etc.) identities of Vilnius. The aim of the ‘Urban Texts’ working group is to read the urban surfaces carefully and try to (re)construct the narratives of official and clandestine identities, written all around the city of Vilnius.

5. Urban Audio-Visual Rhythms

While people inhabiting the city use many languages to understand themselves and their environment, the city itself talks to them in its own language of signs, lights and rhythms. How do we read the city’s messages, how do we feel its rhythms? What tales does the city want to share? We are going to creatively explore everyday urban polyrhythmia by the means of audio and video art and technology. A group of audio-visual explorers will immerse themselves in the city’s environment to learn its rhythms and routes, to catch sounds and images that will later be used to craft audio-visual performances communicating and interpreting urban tales, myths and everyday realities.

Lectures / discussions

We are all Anthropologists! Exploring urban spaces as participant observer.

Felix Ackermann will present an introduction based on his experience in Hrodna – a Belarusian town nearby. He started his research as a historian asking questions about the post war migration of rural migrants to regional centers and ended up taking part in the process of local knowledge production. Thus, it turned out, that the protagonists of his (hi) story are not just alive, but playing today a central role in reexamining local histories. Felix Ackermann describes how his Belarusian and Polish colleagues examine Hrodna as a Palimpsest. Thus reading hidden texts and (re)writing new ones into the urban space at the same time.

Gender and Space: Bi-Polar or Site-Specific?

Ben Cope’s lecture will address the topic of what a gender sensitive perspective might add to the week’s explorations of Vilnius through the issues of language and identity. For the diverse issues of Russian Pop or Tourism, Lost Objects or Urban Texts, or the Rhythms of Urban Sound and Vision are all expressions of particular gender configurations which it is valuable to analyse. The argument of this lecture is that gender and space are mutually constitutive; and that exploring the city space of Vilnius through a gender perspective can better help us understand both the nature of that space and how gender categories are constituted. The lecture will explore how gender and space can be considered on a range of levels, with a particular view to the themes of the working groups of the summer school, and will be based on the “Gender and Space” course that Ben teaches at the European Humanities University.

Picturing the Impossible? Documentary photography practices in with regard to “City, Language, Identity” (Joanna Kinowska).

Each research group during the ‘LitPro Summer School’ has one thing in common, the process of researching and the need to describe or depict the results of research. By its nature, photography can add to and provide genuine solutions in every research area. You just need to know how to use the means photography makes available. This lecture will give some background into how cities and languages have been pictured in the history of photography, with a special emphasis on modern documentary projects.

We will browse the research groups’ topics and explore what are the ideas behind them and what may be the results. Tourism pictures we all know too well and are probably thoroughly bored of: can they bring us something new? What about the tourist pictures of, for example, Martin Parr? Social interactions are probably most visible in any kind of local photojournalism, but where to put Mikołaj Grynberg, who is inventing his own (inter-)actions for photography purposes? Can an object describe the owner and how can photography trace her or him? Picturing music and sound may seem a completely impossible task: nonetheless, many have tried and obtained some unexpected results! Finally, what about photography existing in the city: this may be another surface to look at and consider how it impacts on issues of language and identity.

The argument of this lecture is that a photographer needs first to question what kind of result she or he is interested in, and then very precisely to try to match the photographic means to the expected effect.

This year LitPro Summer School Faculty are:

Jekaterina Lavrinec
(urban studies, media studies / Department of Creative Entrepreneurship and Communication, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University; interdisciplinary platform for urban art and research “”, NGO, Vilnius)

Siarhei Liubimau
(sociology, urban studies / Laboratory of critical urbanism, EHU)

Ben Cope
(critical urbanism, cultural studies / Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, EHU; Education Department, Zachęta National Gallery of Art Warsaw; NGO MY, Warsaw)

Veronika Urbonaitė-Barkauskienė
(urban sociology / Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University)

Rafał Siderski – freelance photographer based in Warsaw Poland, cooperates mainly with Wprost, Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, National Polish Bank

Felix Ackerman
(urban history / cultural studies, European Humanities University / Institute for applied History, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder))

Joanna Kinowska
(art & photography historian, curator, educator, lecturer / Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Fundacja .DOC, Academy of Photography in Warsaw)

Pavel Niakhayeu
(music, cultural studies / Academic Department of Media, EHU; Foundamental Network artcommunity)

Volha Salakheyeva
(VJ-ing, video-art / Foundamental Network art-community)

The LitPro Summer School is open to students from the fields of the social sciences, urban studies, visual and cultural studies, architecture, photography, media studies, film studies, etc., with experience in research or creative work on questions similar to the ones the School poses.

The main working language is English, although Lithuanian, Belarusian, Russian and Polish can be used in communication with tutors and media experts.

Administration Fee is 15 euros.

LitPro covers all expenses except travel to Vilnius. A limited amount of free places will be available upon application.

How to Apply:

All applications to the LitPro Summer School “City, Language, Identity” should be submitted electronically as PDF or DOC file including:

1. Letter of intent, indicating the applicant’s experience and interest in the School’s topic (100-300 words)
2. Proposal for a project related to one of the topics offered by the School(max. 200-300 words)
3. Contact information of a potential referee
    Please label your files as follows:

Please submit your application no later than July 15, 2012 to

Successful applicants will be notified on the 22 of July 2012.

In case of any questions, please, contact the LitPro Summer School coordinator Alina Krushynskaya via