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Unfree Spaces in the Modern World:
Resistant Responses—Empowering Acts

International and Interdisciplinary Workshop












Registration required?    Yes, for in person attendance; see the details below


Workshop Summary

Viewing experiences of spatial unfreedom as both a prerequisite and aftermath of modernity, this workshop focuses on resistant and empowering reactions to the experience of being un/free in spaces of different scales.

This workshop takes as a starting point challenges, counter versions, and alternative perspectives to positively connoted (and mostly White, Western) narratives of modernity as human-orchestrated development, progress, innovation, or control framed by philanthropic dimensions of rationality (see e.g. the works of Adorno; Arendt; Eisenstadt; Feagin; Gilroy; Ong; Sloterdijk). Echoing voices that view “freedom [as] modernity’s central contradiction” (Ruth Wilson Gilmore), this workshop discusses the experience of modernity’s unfreedoms via the crossroads of two specific trajectories: space and cultural reactions. It zooms in to cultural forms of expression from or about Europe, Russia, or America that present reactions to the experience of spatial un/freedom as a potential form of empowerment and/or resistance.

The workshop approaches space as multidimensional and multiscalar, with a particular interest in dis/connectivities and relationships between different spatial scales and formations. It deliberately takes into account individual and collective, material, social, ecological, cultural, and virtual spaces and scrutinizes the loss of control of one’s own relationship to space. It discusses issues of power over and choice of spaces in which human being reside or move, instances of forced im/mobility, ownership of and/or access to space and infrastructures, as well as the control of one’s social, cultural, and political position in space (examples—to be linked to modernity—may include: slavery, lager, camp, (mass) incarceration, expulsion, flight, abduction, (economic/climate) migration, land theft; settler colonialism; segregation, gentrification; hidden lager situations, totalitarian spaces; marginalization and social liminality; etc.).

Thereby, this workshop centers on cultural reactions to the experience of these spatial unfreedoms that presuppose or emerge from modern conditions—reactions that may then in turn attempt, demand, envision or constitute freedoms. Interested in the dynamics of “thinking / writing / acting” back, it scrutinizes a variety of individual, institutional, and communal forms of cultural expression, from or about Europe, Russia, or America (e.g. literature, visuals, performance, new media, spatial design, etc.) and examines their resistant and empowering potential (also see Tsing, Lorde, Shparaga, Fricker, Medina, etc.).

Ultimately, we are hoping for a joint discussion of the following questions:

How is un/freedom in space experienced? How is it linked to modernity? What do and can reactions look like? Which forms of empowerment and resistance do (and do not or cannot) emerge, and what is their impetus (e.g. also ‘belated empowerment,’ ‘epistemic resistance,’ ‘counter memory,’ traumatic ‘frictions’ etc.). And, ultimately, in the sense of Mieke Bal’s ‘traveling concepts’: What can a transcomparison of these processes in different, separate, or linked spaces contribute to our understanding of concepts such as multiscalarity, freedom and space, bondage and lager, empowerment and resistance?

Taking an inter/multi/transdisciplinary and transcomparative approach, we wish to not suggest a connection between ‘everything’ but to encourage a fruitful discussion of the benefits, potentials, and possible limitations of concepts and methods of multiscalar area studies. In the spirit of the Regensburg Leibniz ScienceCampus “Europe and America in the Modern World,” the workshop purposely brings together diverse critical perspectives that shed light on the dark(er) shades of modernity in order to create a productive conversation.

Workshop Program Highlights

Opening and Keynote Lecture

Thursday, January 19, 10:00
IOS Regensburg, Room 319 and via Zoom-Webinar

Conference Welcomes followed by:

Leona Toker, Hebrew University, Israel
The Theme of Poetry Recital in Concentration-Camp Literature


Author Readings

Thursday, January 19, 18:00
IOS Regensburg, Room 319 and via Zoom-Webinar

Randal Maurice Jelks, University of Kansas
Letters to Martin: Meditations on Democracy in Black America, 2022

Saturday, January 21, 12:30–13:30
UR, H26

Heinrich Kirschbaum, University of Freiburg
Reading and Discussion: Revolution der Geduld: Eine belarussische Bricolage


Friday, January 20
Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum
Registered conference participants will travel by conference bus for a guided tour, expert/practitioner discussion, and panel presentations


Workshop sessions

Thursday, January 19
IOS, Room 319
Panel presentations

Saturday, January 21
UR campus, Room H26
Panel presentations and concluding discussion


More details in the Workshop Program

Workshop Organizers:

Birgit Hebel-Bauridl, Regensburg European American Forum (REAF)
Sabine Koller, Slavisch-Jüdische Studien, Slavistik


Workshop Registration:

Guests are welcome anytime! However, in order to maintain a smooth planning process, we’d kindly ask you to register if you wish to attend several sessions, a whole day, or the whole workshop in person. No registration is required for the sessions on Zoom.

Please register via email to by:

  • 20 December 2022, if you wish to join us for the day at the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum (Friday, 20 January 2023: bus, guided tour, expert discussion, lunch, panel presentations). Please note that conference participants will travel together by bus. As the number of seats is limited, reservations will be made in order of registration.
  • 9 January 2023, if you wish to join us for the days in Regensburg only (Thursday, 19 Jan. 2023, IOS: opening, keynote, panels, author’s reading; Saturday, 21 Jan. 2023, UR: panels, concluding discussion).


Workshop Venues and Directions:

Thursday, 19 January 2022: IOS / Altes Finanzamt Regensburg.
Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies.
Landshuter Straße 4; 93047 Regensburg; Germany.
For directions, please visit:

Friday, 20 January 2023: Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum.
Please note that conference participants will travel by bus. Registered conference participants will receive further details

Saturday, 21 January 2023: University of Regensburg, Main Campus. Room: H 26.
Vielberth Building, University of Regensburg. Universitätsstraße 31; 93053 Regensburg; Germany
For directions, please. visit: use the UR Walking App:

Zoom Webinar Link for the sessions with Leona Toker and Randal Maurice Jelks on 19 January:


This is a Leibniz ScienceCampus Regensburg event.

We would like to thank our collaborators, partners, and sponsors:

CITAS – Center for International and Transnational Area Studies

REAF – Regensburg European American Forum

University of Regensburg

Regensburger Universitätsstiftung Hans Vielberth

Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum

IOS – the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies

GSOSES-UR– Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies at UR