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

(upcoming September 2017)

Presenting 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

(upcoming September 2017)

Presenting 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 people and places in the city

(upcoming May 2017)

Presenting 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 people and places in the city”

Fuck the man: punk space and feminist counter-resistance

(upcoming April 2017)

Presenting 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. Continue reading “Fuck the man: punk space and feminist counter-resistance”

Boycotting the Queers: punk space and/or safe space in Ottawa

Presented at: McGill Queer Research Colloquium

Abstract: A public petition to keep the Queers out of Ottawa is not a news story you expect in 2016. Of course, in this story, the Queers are a touring US punk band from the early 80s and the petition was started by Babely Shades, a collective of artists and activists of colour and marginalized genders. In response to the claims that the show and the band reinforced homophobia and racism in the Ottawa punk scene, the show was cancelled but soon rebooked as a benefit concert for local LGBTQ youth. The story was further complicated when a member of the local opening band Shootin’ Blanx publicly came out as a “proud trans man” in defense of the Queers. Ottawa’s punk scene was left uncertain of what it would mean either to attend or not attend the otherwise highly anticipated show. This paper looks to this incident and surrounding media coverage as a preliminary attempt to disentangle some of the many complex relationships and expressions of resistance, marginal group politics, and counter-public space in Ottawa.

Schlemihls and buffoons: the spatial-political margins of punks and pariahs in the city

Presented at: Philosophy of the City, San Francisco CA

Abstract: Like many “undesirables” in the history of cities, punks find themselves regularly forced to adapt to shifting physical and political environments or relocate to increasingly marginal spaces in the city. The freedom to transform spaces that exist outside the mainstream scope that might otherwise enforce prohibitive zoning and other normative regulatory structures, also makes these spaces vulnerable to absorption by the system they seek to escape. While the punk scene in Ottawa, Canada—like many cities—is strongly anchored to physical spaces such as music venues, the tendency to occupy off-the-radar (i.e. cheaper and less regulated) spaces make them susceptible to social and economic changes that affect the desirability of different spaces throughout the city. Continue reading “Schlemihls and buffoons: the spatial-political margins of punks and pariahs in the city”

Messy Methodologies: Proposing radical alternatives to the formal research plan

Presented at: The Space of Struggle | A Mini-Conference on Radical Planning. Portland OR.

Abstract: The city as it is conceived and constructed through urban planning theory and practice is a reproduction of the values and forces which shape it, leaving it vulnerable and blind to other forces which risk burdening those who fall outside its definition. Due to the fundamental challenges of engaging with radical positions, perspectives, and experiences of the city, a consciousness of the limitations of conventional methodology and methods must be carefully considered; not only for logical but also ethical consistency with the subject. This paper examines the challenges of proposing an experimental—what I call “messy”—methodology informed by alternative approaches and radical theories which, by their nature resist rational organization, normative structures, and formal processes. Continue reading “Messy Methodologies: Proposing radical alternatives to the formal research plan”