Enacting affects in the organisation of cultural and educational spaces Post-doc project by Christoph Michels The project explores how cultural and educational spaces are organised with regard to their aesthetic qualities. Ethnography serves as a method to investigate the practices of building production (designing, planning, building), everyday use (visiting, managing, maintaining) and representation (narratives in the media, discourses on culture and education). Through these practices the interplay of human body and material building is investigated and multiple ways of producing the building's atmosphere and its bodily affects are made visible. The project relates to the concepts of "material semiotics" (developed in the Science and Technology Studies) and "affect" (as it has been discussed in human geography). These notions help to describe realities as enactments which interrelate human actors and material objects in specific ways. These enactments produce specific aesthetics, politics and knowledges. Through mutual interference these enactments can (de)stabilize, reflect and change each other. The empirical analysis investigates situations, in which the aesthetic organisation of cultural and educational spaces are being challenged or negotiated, such as architecture competitions, design classes, planning processes, artistic interventions or public debates. In these situations multiple enactments of the built environment overlap and make visible the (potential) multiplicity of educational and cultural facilities and their architectures. By making visible the interplay between aesthetics, politics and knowledge the project aims at contributing to a new understanding of architecture and planning in which new forms of producing and using architecture become possible. Architecture and the city Being educated as an architect at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, my interest in design was initially fostered in a practical and technical way. By way of two small research projects – one was investigating an alternative living project in Zurich and the other one a rapidly developing urban area around the Zurich airport – I started to reflect on the social and political realities of planning processes. After my graduation I decided to do a doctorate at the Institute of Organizational Psychology at the University of St. Gallen. There I had the chance to further investigate the interrelation of society, politics and architecture. Participation My doctorate research project was an empirical study of a participatory planning project for a new art house in the city of St. Gallen. The study aimed at developing a performative understanding of participation, in which people and objects take part in specific enactments of the museum's future. Such an understanding allows for conceiving of political participation in new ways which go beyond political tools for building consensus and including stakeholders through citizen workshops. The ways in which objects and architecture participate in the enactments of the museum's future com into view. Actor-Network Theory My thesis heavily drew on the so-called "Actor-Network Theory". This approach to empirical sense-making was developed in the science and technology studies and allows a performative understanding of organizational realities. It differs from other research approaches in that it takes into account the role of objects (machines, texts, architecture etc.) when describing processes of organising. During a one-year visit to John Law at the Lancaster University in England I had the chance to gain a better understanding of this approach and its ethnographic research practices. Atmospheres In my recent research activites I engage with the production of affects and atmospheres in the planning and use of cultural and educational institutions. In doing so I extend ANT research practices towards the visual methods developed in anthropology.