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Interventions. Private Voices in Public Spaces - until April 28, 2017

Editors: Isabel Caldeira and Maria José Canelo

Deadline for submission: April 28, 2017

Keywords: public/private, surveillance, freedom, citizenship, legitimacy

We are interested in inquiring about the reconfiguration of the concepts ‘public’ and ‘private’ in current discourses, in particular in their relation to notions of nationality, citizenship and freedom. Women were the ones for whom the distinction between the private/domestic and the public was crucial to keep them away from full citizenship. As ideologically charged terms, the notions of the public and the private have in fact been permanently on the agenda and taken different meanings in different contexts. More recently, the post-9/11 world not only has shown us how global events have an impact on private lives, but also how the tension between private and public has grown to new heights. State surveillance measures are justified in the interest of private subjects; however, they ultimately curtail individual freedoms and constitutional rights, including the right to privacy. This poses a demand for a critical repositioning on the notions of public and private.

As points of departure, besides Hannah Arendt's reflections on the public and the private realm” (1958) or the Habermasian definition of the public sphere (1962), we take the public as that which generally refers to the social whole, or a discourse addressed to an indefinite number of people; the private, in opposition, as withdrawn from public life, connected to individual freedom and domestic intimacy (Giddens, 1992; Inness, 1996). Yet, this distinction has barely ever hold, as demonstrated, for instance, by the women movement’s claim that the private/personal is indeed public/political (Hanish 1970). We should also refer to Richard Sennett who argued for the fall of the public man (1974) and the need to reconnect with community; to Lauren Berlant's concept of "intimate public sphere" (1997); or to Ken Plummer's concept of "intimate citizenship" (2003), just to give a notion of how lively and intense the discussion in this area has been.

Both the post-9/11 security policies and the post-Snowden era, evincing the dangers of free access to digital information, have brought to the fore pressing questions of legitimacy. The dangers entailed in the world of network technologies, the WikiLeaks scandals, or the revelation of domestic spying programs have made us realize the fragility of the balance between personal privacy and public authority. On the other hand, the denunciation of private instances of violence or oppression through their exposure in the public space (documentaries, photojournalism, photography, social media), the mobilization of citizens across space through social networks, the invasion and occupation of public space by protesting citizens, migratory movements from postcolonial to postcapitalist regions (and the entailed disruption of assigned social space), artists displaying private bodies in public spaces or occupying public spaces for their artistic interventions, or the recent movement for public access to scientific knowledge are some of the many and diverse instances that complicate our perception of the right to privacy, the limits of public policing, and the creative possibilities around the issue of space.

The essays in this issue are therefore expected to contribute to a timely and necessary reflection on the reconfiguration of the public/private dichotomy. We invite papers from different disciplinary areas using new approaches to innovatively tackle questions such as: where is the line between public and private nowadays – between the state and the individual?, or the market and the individual? – And who draws it? What spaces are not public? What voices are still private? Is there such a thing as the privacy of public spaces? Is it always negative when private spaces become public? Is it desirable that public spaces are appropriated by private causes? In how far did the role of the public intellectual change, in our tendentiously hyperpublic times? Does one have a right to protect one’s subjectivity, image or private feelings, as a right to self-protection or are we done with the need to privacy in the present culture of display? What is the role of social media in our thinking of private/public spaces? What impact do these matters have on the current development of the notion of selfhood? What impact have they had on the very notion of the body? And how can interventions be considered acts of performativity? To what extent have these categories been reshaped in the dialogue with other central concepts, such as security, space, mobility, diaspora, etc.?

We therefore ask, is it still relevant nowadays to keep a distinction which has always been so elusive or should we be working on its rearticulation, or on a redefinition of each category instead? How has the blurring of the boundaries between the public and the private impacted upon literature, perhaps one of the practices that has traditionally fashioned the contradictions of this dichotomy more effectively? Bearing in mind literature’s necessary transgression of this dichotomy, how have recent changes on the understanding of the public/private reflected on matters of literary aesthetics, form, theme? Considering also how both notions have been traditionally gendered, how do changes reflect on gender representations in contemporary fiction, poetry, drama? And how have other scholarly areas critically approached this issue?

e-cadernos ces is a peer-reviewed, online and entirely open access journal, published by the Center for Social Studies in Coimbra. The journal is currently indexed in CAPES, EBSCO and Latindex. For more information about this publication see

Texts should be presented in final version, in Portuguese, English, Spanish, or French. Manuscripts must not exceed 60,000 characters (with spaces), including notes and references. For the final section @cetera, other manuscripts may be submitted (up to 35,000 characters), such as interviews and discussions (up to 25,000 characters) or book reviews (up to 5,000 characters).

Detailed guidelines for submitting texts are available at Manuscripts should be sent by email to and authors should clearly identify the thematic issue in question – “Interventions. Private Voices in Public Spaces”.

All manuscripts will go through a blind peer review process.

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