The German word Freiraum, literally translated, means free room. Freiraum is more than just physical space though, it is also a mental state of creativity and freedom. In 1929 Virginia Woolf argued for the necessity of a "room of one's own" for women writers: Freiraum, both literal and figurative, to think and to create. Almost a century later, having a private room is still a privilege, not only but especially for women. A virus knowing no boundaries or borders emphasized this inequality, making obvious the fierce competition for whose space is whose.
Which public does this public space belong to, what are its rules, and how are they policed? Unspoken questions that are revitalizing gated communities and exclusionary zoning around the world. Who gets to claim and define public spaces? Whose rules determine how space is used and shared? How does identity shape our experience of space?
With texts by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Besufekad, Intan Paramaditha, Adania Shibli.
A publication of the Literary Colloquium Berlin with the kind support of the German Federal Foreign Office.
The editor Priya Basil is a writer and activist. In her book "Be My Guest" she connects stories about her family's Indian-Kenyan traditions, her British heritage and life in Germany to make a passionate plea for hospitality in Europe. Her essays have been widely published, including in Lettre International, Die Zeit and The Guardian. She is co-founder and board member of the NGO WIR MACHEN DAS. Priya is also on the advisory board of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights. In 2017, she initiated and remains actively engaged with a campaign for a European Public Holiday across the continent. Her film-essay "Locked In and Out", exploring questions around citizenship, coloniality and memory culture, premiered on 16th December 2020 at the digital opening of the Humboldt Forum and is now available to watch on YouTube. Her latest book "In Us and Now, Becoming Feminist" (Suhrkamp, 2021) once again powerfully blends the personal and political.