No future. Punk planning, agonistics, and anarchism

(upcoming, April 2019)
Presenting at: AAG Annual Meeting, Washington D.C.

Don’t be told what you want
Don’t be told what you need
There’s no future
No future
No future for you

(Sex Pistols, 1977)

Top-down vs. bottom-up. Western vs. Eastern. Global North vs. South. These are the usual binary positions from which planning is approached and theorized. Even as planning theory continues the important work of interrogating who is included in their definition of the public, it continues to fail to consider those who are not included and what non-inclusion means for the city. Radicals, discontents, delinquents, undesirables: these are some of the non-public participants, or perhaps more-than-public participants in the city. Planners too easily forget that placemaking can, most frequently does, and historically has occurred through non-rational, non-predictive, non-deliberative, and non-prefigurative actions. While theories such as counterpublics (Fraser, 1990), subcultures (Hebdige, 1979), or undercommons (Moten & Harney, 2013) acknowledge nonconformity to the normative definition of the public culture, they are still etymological prefixed and conceptually predicated on a spatial relationship to the politically-defined plane of the public realm. Beyond binaries, negation is an important space of subversion and difference. One potential dimension through which to consider why and how some of these non-publics are excluded from planning is through their negation of future.
Continue reading “No future. Punk planning, agonistics, and anarchism”

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Urban equity and diversity: radical theories and deradicalized practices

October 2018
Presented at: Philosophy of the City, La Universidad de La Salle, Bogotá

In the spatialized struggle for social justice, the feminist banner is increasingly raised and foregrounded by urban activists, scholars, and policy-makers. If we asked today’s urban feminists to respond to Dolores Hayden’s question “what would a non-sexist city look like?” we might overwhelmingly hear that cities ought to be safe, inclusive, and accessible. To meet this tall but important order, they might say we ought to listen to those whose safety is at risk, those who are excluded, and those who are denied access. Today’s urban feminists tell us it is time to privilege and bring forward the voices not only of women but of the many other and multiply marginalized people whose interests have been and continue to be left out of city-building and planning. I position myself among these radical urban feminists. My doctoral fieldwork on public placemaking and alternative scenes in Ottawa (Canada) begins to point towards ways in which radical positions and theories are translated and appropriated into mainstream actions that risk reproduction of dominant normative approaches that depoliticize space; that let some people in only to reinforce the boundaries of who is to be left out. Continue reading “Urban equity and diversity: radical theories and deradicalized practices”

Ask a punk: from informality to anti-formality and anti-authority and when to say fuck

10 February 2018

Presented at: Curating Resistance: Punk as Archival Method, Los Angeles CA

Sometimes you can’t design your research. Sometimes the city is what happens while you’re busy making plans. What are the linkages between tactical approaches to punk place-making and punk knowledge-making? As a doctoral candidate researching punk space in the city, specifically as it intersects with formal urban planning processes, I find striking analogies between my academic struggles and punk place-making. The qualitative-(re)turn in the social sciences has extended legitimacy to a variety of alternative research methods. In the process of formalization and institutionalization, in many instances the underlying conceptual and ethical arguments for the diversification of methodological approaches are buried if not entirely lost. Continue reading “Ask a punk: from informality to anti-formality and anti-authority and when to say fuck”

‘Parking Lot Citys an Ugly Place’ Punk Inverted Images of Capital City

11 April 2018

Presented at: American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, New Orleans LA

Does Ottawa even have a punk scene? Yes, buried beneath the carefully curated and manicured image of the National Capital, the punk scene hides… in plain sight. What about our image of punk and our image of Ottawa make their coexistence in the same space so unimaginable? Perhaps more importantly, from whose perspective and for whose ends are those images constructed? While the planning interests of “town and crown” notoriously and continually conflict, they are allowed to coexist and together form and reinforce the city’s identity. Perhaps it is because both agree that the National Capital ought to uphold the Great Canadian myth of multiculturalism and neoliberal democratic expectations of a safe, inclusive, and accessible city. Continue reading “‘Parking Lot Citys an Ugly Place’ Punk Inverted Images of Capital City”

“Fuck gentrification” is the new “fuck the man”: the desirability of undesirable punk space

21 September 2017

Presented at: 1st International Conference of Anarchist Geographies and Geographers (ICAGG) Reggio Emilia, Italy

Urban planning as it formalized throughout the twentieth century offers a particular relationship and conceptual continuity between the social, spatial, and political that structure the relationships between people, space, and institutions and connects city-making with both place-making and citizen-making. But the city-making project of planning has a “darkside”; one that draws a line between desirable and undesirable people, and between desirable and undesirable spaces. Planning becomes plagued by contradictions and conflicts, both internally and externally, as it tries to reconcile its progressive role and utopian vision with the capitalistic, liberal and democratic systems under which it was formed and continues to operate. The internal inconsistencies are frequently exacerbated to the level of crisis when planning is further confronted with the seeming irreconcilability with another significant part of its ontological heritage—the moral and ethical imperative to act in the public interest. Continue reading ““Fuck gentrification” is the new “fuck the man”: the desirability of undesirable punk space”

Making space for messy urbanisms: in and out of the public eye

14 September 2017

Presented at: European Geographies of Sexualities, Barcelona

City-building is only partially the result of urban planning and the story of the city is only partially narrated by urban planners and the public they plan for. A variety of dissident and dissonant voices, experiences, and actions exist and participate in making and remaking the city. Admitting these voices, admits that the city project is messy, incoherent, conflictual, and contested. I consider these voices non-publics; “non” because of the way their interests have been left out of—and frequently conflict with—the public interest that underlies the normative city-building project of traditional urban planning. Yet, non-publics have developed rich tactical traditions for making both space and place for themselves in the city. In my research, I mobilize admittedly contested intersections between feminist, queer, diaspora, and subculture to guide us towards “messy” analyses of these spatial tactics and traditions. Continue reading “Making space for messy urbanisms: in and out of the public eye”

Schlemihls and squatters: undesirable urban people and places and utopian imaginaries

Presented at: Canadian Society for Jewish Studies Annual Conference, Montreal QC

Both Jews and punks are generally (mis)represented as predominantly urban cultural groups—both with histories of being “undesirable” people who occupy marginal and “undesirable” spaces of the city. Yet, little scholarship directly investigates their spatial practices and experience or their relation to dominant city-making processes such as urban planning. What is the relationship between (un)desirable people and (un)desirable spaces? Who controls the definition or creation of urban desirability? Continue reading “Schlemihls and squatters: undesirable urban people and places and utopian imaginaries”