I have just happened across this article which seemed to work around some of the thoughts I have been having of late around the politics of representation. I have been thinking about how internet maps, such as Google maps, allow you to scroll in or out of the image. At each level of zoom the amount of information remains the same even though the geographical area it covers changes. So when zoomed out only certain areas of the map are labeled, such as the continents, countries, cities or districts. When zoomed in we have street names and even shops. But who decides which places are marked as the most important information to show and how does this effect the way we understand place? Here the algorithms behind the map zoom function seem to take on a more than functional role. They seem rather to be a moment of selection, moment of deciding to show what is important. In this sense it is highly political and this article shows how that politics has ruptured between Google and the Rio government. This rupture shows just how and in what ways Google is powerful beyond the obvious.
As someone who has an undergraduate BSc and a MA in geography you might think I would be doing my PhD in the same subject. However I now find myself sitting in the Anthropology department and funded by a project based from UCL Architecture department. Whilst switching between disciplines is increasingly common I felt that at this years RGS-IBG conference I had an itching for fleshy bodies. Through my work I have an interest in how people, local people relate to land and territory through economies of love and care in a late liberal society in which narratives of localism and the devolution of power run strong. As such I attempt at least to keep central the notion of bodies, blood and personhoods. I ask routinely how personhoods and citizens are shaped through the various scales of governance and structures of cultural legal and cultural governmental practice.
Whilst the RGS-IBG is far too big for me to give a review of the conference as a whole or even write about all the presenters I saw I can say that around half way through the second day I had listened to sessions on ‘Critical Approaches to Localism, neighbourhood working and governance’ ‘Contesting Post-Democratic Cities Amid the ‘tyranny of participation’. The sessions overall aroused some interesting reflections yet I was left yearning more for flesh, people, humans, Ethnography in the geography. Through the graphs, charts and theoretical discussions of various post-political philosophers I felt a strong presence of the absent bodies of those who are affected by, work within and live such ideas, bodies I yearned for. In the latter session Chloe Buire ended the session with an impassioned and energetic description of everyday tactics used by the residents of various cities in Southern African cities, such as dancing, playing, re-using older buildings, gardening disused land and such. I asked her if her work was a call for geographers to be more Ethnographic, she returned an empathetic and enthusiastic YES! Such issues would be brought up later in my session.
I had been sufficiently awoken to be further satisfied by Kirsten Simonsen’s ‘Quest for a new humanism’ where, through the work and philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty she called for a focus on emotions and experience in research using excerpts from the experience of a young Asian man boarding trains shortly after the London 7/7 bombings and his feelings of being in the wrong place.
This embodied experience is something I am interested in my work, but I depart from the realm of phychogeography in that I am interested in how embodiment and experience are communicated to others. In my work I look at how local enthusiasts give over knowledge of their relation of the built environment in walking tours. So it was appropriate that Dr Hilary Geohagen and colleagues had arranged a session that was essentially a walking tour. The walking tour consisted of an enthusiast of Edinburgh’s modernist architecture who had been invited from the local Heritage Association to talk to us geographers about the history of the buildings in the University area. The guide was confidant vastly experienced and knowledgeable and Luke Bennett suggested around half of the people on the tour was much studying the process of guiding enthusiasm and giving of historical architectural knowledge as were interested in the knowledge itself. Many people noted his skill at tailoring the tour to deal with dramatic rain and the undercurrents of personal opinion on the ways in which the university and planners dealt with these buildings.
In a session I both convened and shared, questions as to how engagements with everyday materiality is coming conducive to a form of social tactic in dealing with an understanding one’s relationship to the world work was explored in four papers which were as interesting as they were different from each other. Mia Hunt’s paper explored the ways in which shopkeepers in everyday London high streets curated and composed the items within the shop. Taking as an example small London montages design for tourist pockets her work shows how the everyday curatorial practice of shopkeepers can be understood as a tactic in dealing with the everyday and identity. Dave Yates’s paper neatly used the metaphor of his complex sense of self, which understood differently depending on perspectives needs of the viewer and viewed can be seen to align the complex identities places. Issues of relevant scale, practice and rhythm of self and place were brought together in Yates’s work in looking at a series of London markets. Alessandro Froldi’s paper was an excellent example of using both archive and ethnography in understanding the ways in which radical politics segwayed with the everyday practice of living in urban environments of dereliction construction sites and renewal. The session was neatly rounded up by Kaisa Schmidt-Thome whose explanation of a development of a softGIS toolbox neatly leading to a wide-ranging and engaging discussion around the issues of scale, nothing moments of flow and moments of stillness, dealing with flux and change an everyday occurrence and using GIS tools in increasingly ethnographic and qualitative ways.
The session abstract can be seen here.
On the 26th of June I participated in the Creativity of Property workshop at UCL which I helped convene. Together with two other PhD students at UCL I have been thinking through some of the ideas that were explored in this workshop.
Namely these ideas relate to how creative practices are involved in shaping the ways in which we as humans relate to each other through land, territory, space, legal discourses and so on… we focused on property in the workshop as a particular mode of ownership which brings about a certain way of relating to each other. To explain myself further I’ll run through how the day went.
We started with Charlotte Johnson from Newcastle University whose talk (The Urge to Tidy: Fashioning post –neoliberal property out of shared attics and basements in residential buildings in Belgrade) investigated what happens when a particular mode of relation to space, namely the socialist communal ideal of shared space seen here is shared attics space is managed in a post-socialist society. She mentioned that a mode of relations was “literally built into the fabric of the building”. I found this idea fascinating and wondered how it this idea might look when applied to the everyday English suburb. Tom McDonald and Meixuan Chen both talked about the changes in Chinese society with the former looking at hosting and how karaoke bars as a hired space reflect yet simultaneously change the hosting relation between host, guest and help (service) through the use of commercialised hosting space. A vegetable patch featured in Chen’s work where genealogical lines, community notions of ‘the greater good’ and state notions of communal land were mixed together in the debates around how and if to sell land and who should, might and could benefit from such an exchange.
A fundamental philosophical question was posed by Luke Bennett who asked if the Lockien notion of ownership, relating to the application of labour to natural state leads to the acquisition of property, then what happens when property is in excess in relation to the amounts of labour able to be applied to it? What do to with the excessive present space…? Put the toilet roll in the freezer was amongst the answers. Rafael Schacter’s paper moved us to looking at the practice of participating and asked questions of daubing on walls through his account of graffiti in Madrid merging notions of owning, aesthetics, action over substance and style over substance.
Nick Gadsby, through his study of the players of second life asked what digital items acquired through the game meant in relation to Mauss’s theories of the gift and in relation to the notion of abandoning relations. He skilfully applied this idea to a exchange of slushy machine (a gift in ‘real life’ not in the game) between two participants and how this worked to release a relation of debt of favour and kindness yet simultaneously created a relation of kindness and appreciation to the ways in which players can abandon items and players in the game. Amy Hinterberger, Natalie Porter and Mike Upton all talked about the relation of the body, drugs, IP rights, who owns genomes, the right to drugs and much more. This stimulated some productive conversations between them and in the group as a whole. The day ended nicely with a consideration of how one human may own another through a form of relation through a focus on the slavery and kinship relation in Amazonia by Marc Brightman. My mind spun to the ways in which such relations might work in everyday late liberal societies. To help make sense of the many ideas and conversations we allowed plenty of room for discussion and Dr Eric Hirsch and Dr James Leech kindly opened up the discussions for us and added some much appreciated experience, expertise and intellectual reflections on the papers.
Overall the day was a success if it aimed to open up ideas of creativity as a mode of forming relations of owning. Debates ranged as to the definition of property, the difference to owning. People discussed how useful these debates were and the PhD students iron some of the creases in thought around such ideas. Thanks you to all who came, presented and discussed.
Self proclaimed phyco-geographer and new Professor of contemporary thought at Brunel University Will Self used his inaugural lecture as Professor of contemporary thought at Brunel university to proclaim that ‘walking is political’. Drawing upon the relationship that walking engenders to the city Self notes that, with a shift away from walking over the last 200 years that we have seen a ‘fundamental alteration in the nature of human connectivity’ towards our environments equating a walk to a ‘physical possession of the built environment and that ‘that to walk the city and its environs is, in a very powerful sense, to use it’ and the flâneur as a ‘democratising force who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control’ and in so doing relegates suburbs to locations that ‘no longer convey any sense of place’.
However here I’d like to follow Creswell 2010 and assert that all forms of mobility are political and that whilst I agree with Self that walking allows one to see and experience the city in ways that other forms of movement do not a true ‘democratisation’ of the city would see an aim of access, impact, engagement through all forms mobilties and in so doing would have to fundamentally address questions such as the levels of investment in various forms of movement and the spatial structures of settlements and who these investments and changes benefit.
“Importantly, these forms of mobility (walking, Driving, etc) and these aspects of mobilities (movement, representation and practice) are political – they are implicated in the production of power and relations of domination.”
Further cycling, catching a train and so on have their own emancipatory political potentials of moving our bodies in a phenomological and performative sense, becoming one with machine and zooming past traffic jams is in itself its own experience of interacting with the city as is the train ride along corridors of graffiti or moterway drive. Everyday ‘tactics’ of walking, routes rhythms and speeds are used by both social systems and individuals simultaneously as outlined by Michael De Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life and Self pays attention to the politics of rhythm.
In a direct way he equates a body’s connection to territory in a philosophy of rhythm where consideration comes in a tangible stillness (or slowness) that allows a material connection to the land and in doing so the train, car and bus are rhythm stealers that distort this connection. The questions this raises then is why is that the walk gives us a connection to the city that the train does not? Is the train, its blurring of the buildings it passes, the collection of people it gathers in ephemeral moments of collective individually not a form of movement that can be considered as part of the city and are the collective entanglements of body and car (see Edensor) or bicycle (see Spinney 2010) as engaging of bodies place and movement?
Henri Lefebvre’s Rhythmanalysis offers explorations into notions of timespace and the politics of body object interactions in respect of all types of rhythm. The equation of slowness with control moves us from a politics of rhythm to a philosophy of rhythm in Self’s piece where thought, experience and conection to territory comes only with the wander on foot. Whilst reading David Bissell’s 2011 paper Thinking habits for uncertain subjects: movement, stillness, susceptibility I was brought to think that such an equation is predicated on notions of rationality and self determination embedded in western rationalism that perhaps is ill equipped to deal with the speedy bodily experiences we have today.
Walking itself has taken various forms of politics in relation to conection to territory. Historically the parish boundaries of London where marked out in bi-annual processions or ambulation’s as described by Micheal Housemans’s 1998 article Painful Places: ritual encounters with one’s homelands where the boundaries of the parishes which persit today were walked by a crowd of adults and children, led by a community representative (usually a clergyman). The crowd would halt at vital landmarks for readings rememberances of the boundriy lines for the “taking of pains”. This is where the body experience the landscape in direct sense so… “if the boundary be a stream, one of the boys is tossed into it; …. ….if a hedge, a sapling is cut out of it and used in afflicting the body…”.
This act, dating to at least the 6th century faded away around the time of the enclosure act of 1800 although it is often remembered today. Boundaries were protected in future disputes through the string formative bonds of childhood memory and bodily pain. Many of the boundaries in London today are marked by these walks as Alan Warwick notes of Norwood and the boundary between Croydon and Lambeth
“Tracing that broken dotted line along church road and down Fox Hill, it is almost as through one can follow the reluctant footprints of Revd. Richard Finch, walking close as he dared to the disputed property” (Warwick 1972:14)
Walking also creates paths and which have turned into ‘rights’ and laws. Olwig (2008) notes the act of walking causes lines of ‘desire’ (see Tiessen 2011) causing material traces in the land and such paths in land have been the basis for common law.
So walking is political historically as territory maps onto bodies and bodies onto territory and such material moves shift the realm of value which sediment in law, culture and social norms. Practices of movement are productive in fixing place and types of place. Today we walk for protest, to think, to experience places we shouldn’t go as kids, as adults yes walking IS political but so are all forms of movement are. What Self’s article asks me is how to we beat the bounds today? How to we engage with the polotics of our bodies and the relationship to territory. In an age of almost unquestioned private land ownership, land that is often revered in very public ways how is control achieved and maintained. What is the role of the body, of memory and how does this communicate to the burocratic halls of councils, planners and to wider scales of city forms?
Today perhaps it is the historical tour that ties us to place through shared memory and learning of place value. Where the material trace is harder to leave as asphalt refuses to fade or boundaries refuse to move being locked behind bureaucratic filing cabinets new forms of body politics emerge. Walking is, was and always will be political but we are constantly trying to find new ways to reclaim the politics are we not?
Spinney, J. (2010) “Resisting rhythms: re-reading urban times and spaces through everyday practices of cycling” in Edensor T (Ed) Geographies of Rhythm (Ashgate, Aldershot)
I’m very much involved in this one day workshop at UCL please come along it will a great day of discussions!
The Creativity of Property: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Reinvention of Ownership
One-day workshop on the 26th of June at University College London
Aleksi Knuutila, UCL Anthropology (firstname.lastname@example.org)
David Jeevendrampillai, UCL Anthropology (email@example.com)
Gabrielle Ackroyd, UCL Anthropology (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The workshop invites contributions on the topic of property and ownership in moments of change, i.e. the way concepts, institutions and structures of ownership are being negotiated and reinvented, how notions of ownership are being symbolically challenged and promoted, and how the constraints of property elicit creative responses. It will explore what it is, in our times, to possess or author something; on what grounds a place belongs to people or people to a place; what it takes to claim something or to make it common for everyone; and how people are creatively making something of their own out of the institutions of property. It explores the reasons and consequences behind the constitution of property, showing how it fabricates certain categories of persons, groups and objects, and assigns originality or origination.
The past two decades have seen the dominant liberal mode of ownership expand to new areas. Yet this development has been paralleled with a diversification, as institutions of property have been creatively remade or appropriated for different purposes. For example, notions of authorship are challenged in digital commons and “remix cultures”, just as indigenous groups are calling on international cultural property law to protect their stakes in their collective ways of life. New consumption infrastructures such as Boris Bikes mean use no longer depends on ownership, while many protests in 2011 depended on claiming public spaces for purposes of demonstration and deliberation.
The attempts to reinvent or challenge systems of property might be best understood with a theoretical lense that places the agency, creativity and fluidity of social action at its heart. This might make current the calls for anthropological theory that see property as a on-going, dynamic process of assertion and contestation, and not as the result of reified social relations (Strang and Busse 2011). Such an approach would be more sensitive to wider conditions of social practices and their interaction with the material and spatial environment. It could show how personhood or group identity may not independent and clearly bounded, but constituted with the things possessed or acts of appropriation. It can demonstrate the reality of numerous ways of owning or making things common, and the reasons of power, culture and institutions that may keep them from being dominant.
The day will consist of two panels, which will be oriented towards the following themes:
I) Space and place
- How ideas of territory, belonging, and identity are contested and challenged
- The appropriation and reclaiming of public spaces
- How people make spaces their own through creativity, movement and innovation
- Who controls cities in moments of change, and what skills and discourses are deployed in doing so
- How the movement and rhythms in places are directed, controlled and unevenly distributed
II) The self and materials
- Acts of appropriating objects as personal property
- The interrelation between personhood, peoplehood and possessions
- Responses to the constraints of property systems
- Material qualities of assets and their consequences for systems of property
- Creativity, originality, and how it is recognized and channeled by systems of property
- How and why new objects come to be considered as property
- Struggles between several different ways of owning or making things common
Practicalities of the workshop
The workshop will take place on the 26th of June in the Anthropology department of University College London. Participants that wish to present in the sessions will be asked to pre-circulate short extracts of their work of between 1000 and 5000 words. We welcome PhD level work, which could be drafts of articles or chapters of theses. People from all relevant disciplines in the social sciences are welcome to attend. Participants are asked to give 20 minute presentations of their work. The workshop will emphasise active involvement in an interactive and informal setting, with a focus on improving academic work and identifying emerging issues for research. Each workshop will have an invited academic as a discussant, who will discuss the contributions together with the audience. We have confirmed James Leach as one of our discussants. The day will end with a roundtable discussion that will bring together and conclude on the themes that were brought out during the day. light lunch is provided for the participants. Places are limited for the event to facilitate discussions.
Submission of abstracts
Please send an e-mail to Aleksi Knuutila.(email@example.com) with the following information:
- Title of paper
- An abstract of 300-500 words
- Contact details
- University affiliation and city from which you will be traveling
The call for papers will close on 15th of May. Individuals who have been accepted based on their abstracts will be asked to circulate short extracts of their work in early June.
This workshop is funded by the UCL Anthropology Reading Group and Research Fund.
Here is a rundown of my ever growing network of friends and family investigating the many issues around space and place which interest me. The collection of websites, blogs and journals help when lost and when I think I’m found they make sure I get lost again! All very useful and fun, please have a click around, get in touch and suggest more…
Adaptable Suburbs – I am one of three PhD students on this EPSRC funded project based out of The Barlett School of Graduate Studies at UCL. A deeper understanding of suburbs is sought in particular looking at the relationship between the built environment and social life, I take a historical perspective to the emergence of networks of movement and the role of history and memory in place making by both people and stubborn materialities. I use the skills of the team in bringing together architectural methods and approaches together with anthropological understandings. Its all very exciting!
– Journal and Weblog, it will make your brain hurt! Some really interesting debates from here and one of my favourites.
varve – Tim Cresswell’s thoughts on place, mobility, landscape and poetry, always a pleasure to read.
Matthew Gandy – prolific and gripping writer on cities, landscapes and nature. Ecological dynamics of urban space the connection/co-mingling of bodies and place and the moving image are key themes.
In/Out 0f Place…Spectral Nonsensical…
– Bradley Garret and crew go on their urban explorations blurring lines, breaking boundaries and turning the outside in. Fun, full on and bursting with potential to make your thoughts go through worm holes.
– the politics of it all, oh yeh that!
– where are we…let Brian take a picture and….
– The inside of buildings, yeh….
if it’s not here….
Follow objects through space and time
ahh where material culture Anthropology, geography politics all meet (and it helps you do your shopping)
– based out of UCL anth Material culture group, what do materials do.. if you don’t know…..
– leading blog on matters Anth
– reflexive and personal reflections on doing, being Anthropological. Helps me think other people think “Eh?” sometimes too.
for Anthropologists that like to talk a lot (find one that doesn’t!)
– general London
– Dave Hill of the Guardian, keeps it London!
Musing on Historical Geogrpahy and social life…. Manchester focus (good city that!)
– history in the making
Moving, Wandering & Walking
– US focused but interest and up to date with how people move, want to move and think about moving.
– walking and art…yes please
– guess…yep walking
– walking and talking
– this one is about ‘being’ generally, very phenomeno-logical
– walking tours, bit spooky!
– lets all walk walk walk!
If life’s a Journey then pack a bag
Random people with interesting projects all around but
– geographical, discursive, moving being…. Arty… and walking -
of particular interest.
Memory & Oral History
– working in Leeds on Oral Histories using locative media and new technologies, interesting yes!
– Toby Butler’s memoryscapes!
– oral histories
Architecture & Urban Studies
– people and objects, where Anthropology and Architecture meet…
interesting scraps of all sorts lots of wanderings and meanderings.
– Does what it says on the tin, lots of interesting visuals that present data in very interesting ways.
– all a bit psycho-geography, don’t be square but a square….
– landscape futures, architectural conjecture and urban speculations
– Network the network, ideas of movement and place (and some handsome maps)
Others of general interest
Land & Activism
The Portas Review: An anthropological reading.
Just this week [12.12.2011] celebrity retail analyst Mary Portas published UK government sponsored report entitled “The Portas Review: An independent review into the future of our high streets” outlining 28 key recommendations and suggesting ideas for the future of the UK high street. The report has attracted a large amount of interest in the press and reflects wider discussions on high streets and the associated issues of ‘localness’ ‘community’ and an interesting collection of values, morals and ways of thinking about high streets and the social relations they engender.
Through my work with the Adaptable Suburbs team at UCL I have a keen interest in the historical development and changes in the spaces of the Suburbs and in particular the built environment of the ‘high street’ and its land uses. The Portas Report provides a rich reading for an anthropologist interested in the phenomena of the high street and its associated notions of neighbourhood, its values etc. and in this post I pull out some of the ways in which I read the document.
My reading can be categorised into two sections, firstly the social values, morals and orderings of these spaces and associated practices and their entanglement with wider discourses of identity. Secondly how this ordering is either maintained or restored in response to perceived threats through practical measures that reflect both a ordering of social and moral values and an ideological position that in could be referred to as post-political[i].
Despite a number of declarative statements about the report not being about nostalgia there is a layering of a yearning to return to some notion of community, place, localness, perhaps not like days of ‘butcher baker and candle stick maker’ but to locally focused economy and specialist and personalised services. From the outset the report declares that it is about ‘Our’ high street, that are ‘spaces which….people make their own’ (p46), ‘people and place come first’ (p31) that there is some sense of public ownership in these spaces. Portas invokes an idea that people are willing to ‘fight’ for, are enthusiastic about, and care for such spaces and that we have “sacrificed our communities for convenience” in light of internet and supermarket based shopping and service delivery, describing them as ‘key threats’. The report states that the high street is in a ‘dire state’ and that we have seen a loss of ‘street trust’, a sense of belonging and yet people care deeply for the high street and the appetite to fight for the high street is strong. Throughout the report and surrounding publicity bodily metaphors are used frequently, the high street is said to need life ‘breathed’ into it and its heart putting back through ‘local people’ (p37, 44, 45).
Portas equates the shift in retail practices to a ‘radical and profound shift in our values’ (p13) and asserts the role of the high street in maintaining a sense of belonging, community and maintain social capital. She asserts that the high street is about “so much more than shopping” (p44) and that the high street should serve community needs.
The above shows how such ideas of community here are based in a particular idea of place;- of the high street that maintains a sense of communal value and way of life that the place of the internet, the supermarket apparently cannot. Local produce is valued for economic and ecological reasons relating to an idea of sustainability and stable socio-environmental systems and community needs and a ‘sense of belonging’ works through spaces that the high street is able to deliver. Clearly the report is designed to preserve and boost the high street in its ability to maintain the work it does in these orderings and understanding of such categories. Through a serious of re-thinking of the spatial practices the high street encourages supports and engenders and a number of bureaucratic measures Portas outlines 28 recommendations for the high streets.
The report suggests a number of measures including setting up town teams that will run the high street ‘like a business’ and develop strategic local plans. Local histories and pride are conceived as selling points and building blocks for a type of space different to the ‘general’ experience of the supermarket. She requests more considerate planning in regard to the perceived threats of out of town shopping centres and supermarkets and wants to free up parking spaces and empty buildings so that they can be used by small businesses and costumers without large bureaucratic or capital obstacles. She talks with business like efficiency about social capital and how the civic pride and goodwill of local people of local people is essential to maintaining high streets. She invokes the recent localism act in stressing that local people should have control of the recourses around them and encourages creative and community based use of spaces such as second floor building space and market halls. Many of the recommendation follow case studies of best practice or exist elsewhere already but my aim here is not to run through them in terms of their effectiveness and impact but rather to reflect on them in regard to what they do in relation the above assertion of the way in which the high street is a conduit of categories of identity, neighbourhood and whose spaces engender a becoming of a particular place with its associated values.
These measures clearly aim to assert the high street as a place that needs to be maintained against a danger of their decline in the face of a threat of changing spatial practices born out of convenience. The mechanism of doing that is a re-ordering of bureaucratic measures and policy to ensure that town centres become central to priorities, social relations and healthy community is premised here not only on particular spaces but on particular ways of managing spaces. This management takes the form of shaping and influencing the retail practices and flows of capital which is seen as key to social relations and current understandings of positive social values. The bodily metaphors indicate a relation to the spaces of the high street as something that holds life, has lungs and a heart and that people care about. The resulting media responses may differ in their agreement on the minor issues of policy of such things as the category of betting shops to the large ideological differences that come about in discussions over ownership of community resources and the use of the localism act.
However anthropologically the report and the resulting attention demonstrates the extent to which social relations in everyday British life work around, through and with the spaces of the everyday such as the high street, the supermarket, the betting shop. The ‘crisis’, the panic and decline in the state of the high street has resulted in considerable government resources and press attention with a ‘minster for shops’ a possibility and much debate occurring over what to do with the high street. Few if any commentators have considered the impact of directing such resources to a form of social relation measured through such spaces and practices. What are the historical conditions for these social relations, for ideas of localness and the social values that occur through these spaces. What does it mean to maintain social relations through a strong correlation to retail practices, the high street and so on. What might supermarkets, global flows of food, money and the internet do to these orderings and what might the range of possible futures be.
With a critical analysis of the changes in the spaces of the high street, the understandings of what the high street does in terms of social relations and a developed historical context it might be possible to not only to discuss what people might do maintain high streets or if we should have them at all but further to ask in what ways and through what spatial practices do we wish to construct our social relations. We need to ask what the current ways of understanding social relations and where we place the emphasis for action and change does, but also who is it for and who is left out. With such critical insights we may be better placed to develop understandings of social relations that move beyond reductionist ideas of ‘consumer society’, and readings of events such as the recent riots and the ‘decline’ of the High Street and postulate a position in which we might be able to discuss real ways to alternative and progressive futures in which our discussions around the spaces of our everyday social relations offer real progressive futures in how shape the spaces in which we live our social relations.
[i] See the works of Mouff, Laclau, Zizek, and so on
Laclau, E. (2005). On Populist Reason. London, Verso.
Mouffe, C. (2005). On The Political. London, Routledge.
Žižek, S. (1999a). Carl Schmitt in the Age of Post-Politics. The Challenge of Carl Schmitt. C. Mouffe. London, Verso: 18-37.