Potential of city networks in shaping the world’s ecumene


  • Krzysztof Kwiatkowski




The contemporary global space is characterised by huge disproportions of social inequalities, drastic division between a core and peripheries, unequal access to education and general mobility, and many more. These phenomena lead to a feeling of dependence and marginalisation of specific social classes as well as ethnic, national and religious minorities. In the extreme situations that might evoke a feeling of humiliation. The scale of tensions results in unpredictable acts of aggression. The need for taking actions in order to reduce these disproportions has emerged. It is necessary to aim at achieving the balance on a world scale. This means creating the world ecumene defined by Ulf Hannerz as a ‘region of persistent culture interaction and exchange.’ To a certain extent, the state of balance is an ideal state. Reaching it fully is very challenging, or perhaps even impossible. Nevertheless, we should aim at achieving the balanced state by implementing the further steps of its pursuit. Activities related to a city network might become the mechanism which enables to create the ecumene. The efficiency of public engagement is based on: (1) an anti-ideology syndrome – focusing on basic problems of living, which are universal to all of us; (2) an overlap of two basic self-organisational activities: protest politics and social participation (based on deliberative democracy); (3) performance phenomenon – depends on generating the audience for the protest politics; (4) consistency and firmness of protests practices, which results in high efficiency. In terms of architecture, aiming at the ecumene means shaping public spaces which are crucial to multiculturalism. The theory of thirdspace of Edward W. Soja (which is contradictory to the concept of Homi K. Bhabha) might be an inspiration for creating of the ecumene. The theory holds that public spaces are superpositions for two ‘worlds’ – real and symbolic. Spaces which are formed in this way enable to reveal in a performative way the potential of unexpected meetings of remote cultures.