III Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture

Cultures at Work/Working with Culture

 June 24 – June 30


There is perhaps nothing more contentious than culture. Both as value and practice, it has certainly become the new discursive paradigm of the 21st century, despite of or maybe even because of its prolific signification to address matters that range from philosophy to politics, the economy to religion, ethnicity and aesthetics. Either as value or material creation, culture informs actions and labour practices. In its variety and spoken by many voices, culture is always at work, in a way that will necessarily require that it be graphed in the plural, as cultures.

The III Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture aims to bring together artists, students and academics to discuss the manifold ways in which cultures work. Firstly, by understanding culture as a process and a narrative that constructs the social. Culture structures communal forms of belonging in both normative and non-normative ways, it organizes the relation to the past and in short promotes the self-awareness of groups and societies.

Secondly, by discussing cultural work and its impact in the making and remaking of social meaning. How do artists envisage their practices in the age of austerity and how do they consider themselves relevant agents before the challenges ahead? In fact, culture is also a practice of citizenship, a potentiality, where hegemony, subversion and renewal come together.

Thirdly, by considering the cultural economy and how the growing awareness for the economic contribution of the cultural sector has been changing cultural theory. How does the perception of culture as consumption alter and challenge cultural theory’s critical positioning? And how does it provide a new strategic political visibility for this sector?

Finally, by placing the idea of work centerfold, we want to consider the intersection between cultural practice and former sites of industrial production, how the discipline of labour clashes with the disruptive mode of creation, and how the artistic professions represent themselves and lend themselves to representation. Artistic freedom and disciplinary regulation are inextricably linked. The city as spatial organization disciplines bodies and subjectivities and houses the seats of order and regulation, whilst promoting the relations that allow creativity to thrive. This twofold dimension of the city is particularly relevant in the tactical appropriation of former sites of violent disciplinary regulation (military barracks, hospitals), as well of industrial discipline (factories, warehouses) by artists in cities all over the world.

The organizers invite proposals that discuss cultures at work and focus on the following topics, amongst others:

  • Cultural work in the age of austerity.
  • The cultural societies (Kulturgesellschaften): The role of cultural institutions in modernity and post-modernity.
  • The cultural sector and the experiential economy.
  • Liquid cultures and material designs: challenges and opportunities.
  • The representation of cultural work in the arts, in literature, film and the media.
  • Global cultures and local practices: the globalization of the creative sector.
  • Field work: Culture as a collaborative project (examples from all fields of cultural activity are welcome).


  • Tony Bennett (Centre for Cultural Research – University of Western Sydney)
  • Andreas Huyssen (Columbia University)
  • George Yúdice (University of Miami)
  • Elena Esposito (Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia)
  • Amit Pinchevski (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
  • Joseph Heathcott (New School for Social Research, NY)
  • Frederik Tygstrup (University of Copenhagen)Álvaro Barbosa (University of Saint Joseph, Macau)
  • Luís Gustavo Martins (School of the Arts – Catholic University of Portugal)
  • Maria do Rosário Lupi Bello (Open University, Portugal)

Organizing Committee

  • Isabel Capeloa Gil
  • Peter Hanenberg
  • Alexandra Lopes
  • Paulo de Campos Pinto
  • Daniela Agostinho