Public spaces, social interaction and the negotiation of difference

by Lars Wiesemann

Working Papers WP 12-08
April 2012
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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This paper explores the daily negotiation of ethnic (and other) differences in public spaces in relation to recent debates in urban studies and geography on urban encounters. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in Mülheim, a socially and ethnically diverse neighbourhood in Cologne, Germany, the paper examines how prejudices are shaped and challenged by everyday encounters in public spaces. In particular, it highlights moments of transgression and conviviality in public spaces and how such experience can lead to rethinking fixed notions towards Others. In addressing these aspects, this paper seeks to contribute to the discussion on the limits and potentials of public encounters with difference.

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