Prof. dr. Paul van de Laar receives HERA grant for joint project

The project “Pleasurescapes. Port Cities’ Transnational Forces of Integration” is led by Prof. Dr. Lisa Kosok from HafenCity Universität Hamburg and is in collaboration with many museums all around Europe, such as Museum für Hamburgische Geschichte Hamburg, Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA) Barcelona and Museum Rotterdam.

Members of the joint project include Prof. dr. van de Laar from ESHCC, as well as researchers Dr. Judit Vidiella Pagès from University of Girona, and lastly Prof. dr. Heiko Droste from Stockholm University. The received grant called: ‘Hera Joint Research Programme “Public Spaces: Culture and Integration in Europe”’ is financed by the NWO.

About the project:

PLEASURESCAPES is a Humanities-led collaborative research project that explores the relations between public spaces, culture and integration by means of popular culture. We ask for the manifold ways how public pleasurescapes in European port cities have unfolded cultural and social forces of integration in the past and present and thereby fostered traits of modern European urban practices.

Where people have fun, encounter happens. Where encounters take place, change begins. Are pleasurescapes in port cities Europe’s true driving forces after all?

Public spaces of entertainment in European port cities, which we name “pleasurescapes”, mirror traits of European urbanization in an extraordinary way: They are transnational microcosms, representing conformity and rebellion at the same time. They are public zones of encounter and melting pot for divergent classes, cultures and religions. In studying the past and present of European port cities’ pleasurescapes, we gain insights into Europe’s cultural pluralism and its exchange of knowledge, material, technologies, and practices.

Four cities and their pleasurescapes are of special interest for us and will be researched empirically: Hamburg (DE), Rotterdam (NL), Barcelona (ES) and Gothenburg (SE). Despite their national differences, they show intriguing transnational convergence. Therefore, our project will reveal the fundamental societal importance of pleasure culture – a to date underestimated factor for societal integration, innovation processes and cultural industries.