Presented at: Association of American Geographers 2017 Annual Meeting, Boston MA
Session: Anarchist Political Ecology: Theoretical Horizons and Empirical Axes III – Urban Anarchism
Abstract: While the appropriation and transformation of undesirable space into punk space present ways to “fuck the man,” punk claims to space are neither absolute nor stable. The freedom to use and transform space outside the mainstream and its regulatory structures also makes these spaces vulnerable to dominant social and economic systems that define property and determine its value. When the desirability of different spaces throughout the city shifts, pressure is placed on the residents who no longer conform. Like many “undesirables” in cities, punks are perpetually forced to adapt, integrate, or re-make both space and place in increasingly marginal parts of the city. Punk space repeats a battle of fucking the man and being fucked by the man. Currently in Ottawa Ontario, there is also vocal and divisive critique from a feminist artist collective questioning whether men are really the ones being fucked. However, women and people of marginal and intersectional identity inside the scene argue that punk is a welcoming counterpublic space for many who remain “undesirables” in mainstream public spaces. How does punk feminism exist and resist as a counterpublic within a counterpublic? This paper attempts to untangle the heated debate in mainstream, alternative, and social media. I pursue a radical reading that the demographic represented by the artist collective aligns with the progressive cosmopolitan and neoliberal narratives that frame artists and some marginal identities as desirable-undesirables. Repackaged as the creative class, they are pit against the undesirable-undesirables punks and reproduce a legitimized narrative of gentrification and displacement.