Franziska Imhoff

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Franziska joined ‘Practicing Place’ in April 2024. She studied International Cultural and Business Studies at the University of Passau. Franziska completed a master’s degree in Tourism and Sustainable Regional Development at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and a master’s degree in Tourism Geography at the University of Oulu (Finland).

As a research associate at the chair of Economic Geography (KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) she worked on young people’s practices of cultural self-organization and on public funding practices for youth cultural activities in structurally weak rural areas. In her PhD project, Franziska aims to extend the scope of this research to delve deeper into youth cultures in rural-peripheral areas and the practices of (re-)producing youth cultural places, especially highlighting the affective structures that underlie these practices and the places that emerge from them.

Exploring Affective Entanglements: On Places and Placings of Rural Youth Cultures

When we think of youth cultures, we usually imagine them as placed in urban settings. Indeed, rural areas often lack designated places and facilities where youth and youth cultures can or will (literally) take place. Given this situation, rural youth cultures are based on self-organized, semi-public approaches that produce diverse forms of community and spatial appropriations. For instance, the phenomenon of a ‘Bauwagen’ culture, which is particularly present in rural southern Germany, shows how young people create their own identity-forming places away from an adult gaze. My dissertation focuses on such youth (cultural) communalization practices, and the places they (re-)produce in rural peripheries.

With my research I aim to contribute to a better understanding of how young people experience, feel, discursively represent, and practice their rural lifeworlds and their (youth cultural) places. I seek to understand the impact of these places on perceptions of self, community, and future in the urban-rural nexus. Contrary to a theory of modern alienation of the subject from place, my work emphasizes the enduring affective intensities of place and belonging to place, especially in a youth context.

To conceptualize the processualism and the relationality of youth, rurality, and place, I suggest drawing from assemblage theoretical thought. When places are thought of as assemblages, they become the focus of interest as an entanglement of discourses, practices and materialities that foster highly affective processes of constantly (re-)assembling socio-cultural and material relations. This conceptualization also sharpens a perspective on rural youth cultures as complex socio-material structures, while at the same time considering the discourses and narratives that reproduce rural youth and the extent to which these narratives are enacted, altered, or rejected by the subjects involved.

In my research, I use a combination of qualitative methods that allow for a flexible, quasi-ethnographic, and more-than-representational approach. The regional focus of my empirical research is the border triangle of Bavaria, Saxony, and Thuringia.