Appel à communication pour une session autour des ambiances/des atmosphères dans le cadre de la prochaine conférence de l’American Association of Geographers
les 3-7 avril 2019 – Washington, DC :

Towards a political ecology of ambiances/atmospheres

Damien Masson (Université de Cergy Pontoise, MRTE, France);
Rachel Thomas (Université Grenoble Alpes, AAU – CRESSON, France)

Research on ambiances and atmospheres* has largely contributed to making explicit the role of sensitive phenomena in space, perceptual modalities and affects in the construction of social life. Deriving from an aesthetic thought to ecological approach, and focusing on the forms of situated experience, most of these works reveal how ambiances/atmospheres affect the tones and forms of social life. However, one can also witness a lack for consideration of the societal challenges – as well as of the political and moral issues – that are necessarily carried out by the physical and sensory transformations of our living conditions. Some are more problematic than others. These transformation could take into consideration some « atmospheric properties » that surround situations, intend to give these a « tone » that is more or less “warm” and engaging; place individuals in « states », may these be of confidence or of destabilization; put dwellers at risk or, on the contrary, enhance our capabilities to play an active part within society; sometimes put at risk our feeling of belonging to the same « common world » or our ability to welcome the ‘Other’. How is it possible to understand these sensory experiences, without questioning, evaluating and even criticizing the value of the ambiances/atmospheres in which they take place?

This session aims at questioning the possibility of reconciling descriptive approaches of mundane social life (attentive to its sensitive, emotional and atmospheric/ambient dimension), with critical approaches? In other words, how can the sensory, affective, atmospheric research convey issues of social and political criticism?

We invite papers that address the above points within themes including:
– Thinking together an ecology of places and an ecology of ambiances/atmospheres, or even a political ecology of ambiances/atmospheres
– What could be an ambiance/atmosphere-based critique? What could be the objects of this ambiance/atmosphere-based critique?
– Theoretical and empirical relationship with critical theory?
– The role of ambiance/atmospheres in creating situations of unrest, symbolic violence and marginalization? How do they contribute to the creation of « sidelining?
– What do ambiances/atmosphere do to the mundane body and senses?
– How do atmospheres participate in the production and duplication of « alienations », indispositions to action, impossibilities of engagement and sharing?
– Political uses of ambiances/atmospheres
– Ambiances/atmospheres and spaces of consumption

Please send a paper title and 250-word abstract to
by Friday 12th October 2018.

* Here, ambiances refer to the francophone (notably from Augoyard, Amphoux, Thibaud, Thomas, Tixier etc.) architectural and urban research on the sensory space developed over the last thirty years. Atmospheres refer, on the other hand, to English-speaking research conducted in human and cultural geography (Adey, Anderson, Edensor, McCormack, Simpson, Sumartojo and Pink etc.)