The Physicality of Citizenship: The Built Environment and Insurgent Urbanism

Citation:

Diane E. Davis and Prassanna Raman. 2013. “The Physicality of Citizenship: The Built Environment and Insurgent Urbanism.” Thresholds, 41, 1, Pp. 60-71. Publisher's Version

Abstract:

Different cities hosted very different types of protests, depending on the nature of the spaces under occupation. By building a movement that focused on actual public space, the Occupy movements did indeed evolve a new form of articulating citizenship by strategically deploying public spaces in the construction of a larger movement for democratic citizenship. But the ambiguous role that the commitment to physically occupying space played within the different urban factions of the larger movement, and the failure of these simultaneously-enacted, city-based protests to link larger citizenship concerns to social or legal rights to permanently occupy physical spaces, also limited the power of the movement both locally and nationally, further reflecting divisions within the movement about its larger political purpose. Although increased mobility in space can enable acts of protest, just as public spaces can serve as symbolic sites for enacting citizenship, the question of whether these and other built environmental factors will motivate political dissatisfaction remains an open question. When physical space for protest becomes a rare commodity, a city’s democratic and civic spheres are also under threat.
Last updated on 03/15/2019