University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

The concept of “site” is crucial to the way we know and negotiate the world. It is now commonplace to move between physical sites and virtual sites many times in a single day.

Symposium Curriculum

Site and Incitement

The 2012-14 University Symposium on Site and Incitement will look at ways “site” may be defined, expanded, critiqued, and applied to physical (outdoors/indoors), virtual, temporal, and /or imaginary sites. One may also choose to see “site” in much more conceptual or expanded ways—for example, a novel or poem may be focused on “site” or the text itself may be seen as “site.”

The term “incitement” is catalytic.

What are the various possibilities for a “site” to “incite”? What are the various meanings, histories, and complexities overlaid on the same site? How are these ideas foundational to negotiations related to political, artistic, designed, and civic interactions? The symposium welcomes contributions and proposals that explore ideas of site and incitement from the perspectives of multiple disciplines and diverse communities.

Cultural knowledge, event-spaces, anchors and more

Sites are variously thought of as storehouses of cultural knowledge, dense event-spaces of pervasive relations, locations of unpredictable eruptions of specific and transformative theoretical and political solutions, or anchors of memories representing both good and evil, to name just a few. Sites may encompass a shared community or be designated by one person. Archaeologists and heritage professionals study sites as places of human activity and meaning making over time, and may think of a site as the embodiment of broader, and often global, ideas of human achievement or suffering, encompassing both tangible and intangible heritage (Lucas 2004Truscott 2011). Artists are critiquing the term “site-specific” and reassessing the relationship between an art work and its site (Kwon 2004). Site matters to the disciplines and professions concerned with design of the physical environment, as well, not only as the context for a specific project, but also in discourses that renegotiate the relationship between theory and practice (Burns and Kahn 2005). Geographers, too, interrogate and renegotiate alternative meanings of site as a formulation that holds infinite possibilities of social and political life (Woodward, Jones and Marston 2009).

Inciting Creative Interactions and Innovative Thinking

The University Symposium, coordinated by the Institute for Advanced Study, explores critical issues from a variety of vantage points through a series of connected events, including public lectures, conferences, and research and creative collaboratives. Launched in 2006, the first symposium focused on the Politics of Population. Other symposium topics have included TimeBody & Knowing,” and Abundance & Scarcity. The 2012-14 University Symposium Site and Incitement continues this tradition, offering an opportunity to incite creative interactions and innovative thinking through interdisciplinary endeavors, ranging from public lectures and exhibits to faculty fellowships and research initiatives.

Planning Meetings

Please join us during Fall 2013 for planning meetings, the first to be held Thursday, October 10 at noon in Nolte 235.  At these meeting participants refined topics, suggested speakers and events, and discussed how their own work related to the proposed themes.  These discussions take a long-term and multidisciplinary view.  The meeting ideas stimulate academic discussion and help shape the course of the symposium over the next year.  The discussions are free and open to all.  Please feel free to bring lunch and enjoy the conversation – beverages will be provided.

Want to Hear More?

If you would like to be on the IAS Site and Incitement email list, please send an email to Susannah Smith: If you have questions, please contact Ann Waltner:

To subscribe to an audio podcast of Site and Incitement events, copy this link into iTunes or any other podcasting software.

References cited:

Burns, Carol J., and Andrea Kahn (editors). 2005. “Why Site Matters.” In Site Matters: Design Concepts, Histories, and Strategies, edited by Carol J. Burns and Andrea Kahn, pp. vii-xxix. Routledge, New York .

Kwon, Miwon. 2004. One Place after Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lucas, Michael T. 2004. “Applied Archaeology and the Construction of Place at Mount Calbert , Prince George ‘s county, Maryland.” InPlaces in Mind: Public Archaeology as Applied Anthropology,edited by Paul A. Shackel and Erve J. Chambers, pp. 119-134. Routledge, New York .

Truscott, Marilyn C. 2011. “Peopling Places, Storying Spaces: Heritage Sustaining Human Development? (forum).”Heritage & Society (1) :125-134. Left Coast Press, Inc., Walnut Creek, California.

Woodward, Keith, John Paul Jones III, and Sallie A. Marston. 2009. “Of Eagles and Flies: Orientations toward the Site.” Area (Journal compilation of the Royal Geographical Society) 42 (3) :271-280.

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