Urban equity and diversity: radical theories and deradicalized practices

October 2018 (upcoming)

Presenting 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”

Advertisements

Sacred Zoning: Spatial Demarcations in Jewish Thought

Presented at: CSJS annual conference, Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2016. Calgary AB.

Abstract: The stereotypical landscape of human settlement in North America is that of an endless grid which was laid down by surveyors and turned land into a commodity that can be traded. On this seemingly neutral pattern, places emerge in which people endow space with meaning: the “other side of the tracks,” the elite suburb, the civic centre, the green oasis. This spatial differentiation is in part governed by public land-use regulations, most often known as zoning. In the process of managing the development and shape of urban environments, zoning imposes structure and limits on the form and function of cities, and by extension on people. Marginalized groups are especially subject to exclusion from the Master Plan. Continue reading “Sacred Zoning: Spatial Demarcations in Jewish Thought”

SK8: Urban innovation and governance in the spatial and social design of skateparks

Presented at: Association of American Geographers Annual Conference 2016. San Francisco CA.

Abstract: April 2015: In Montreal, Mayor Denis Coderre legalizes skateboarding in Peace Park. In Ottawa, construction is finally underway on McNabb skatepark. As a means of transportation, recreation, athletic endeavour, and alternative community, skateboarding has a conflictual but undeniable relationship to the city. Though the current trend in city-sanctioned skateparks is often initiated through community grassroots organization, there is a strong reliance on city governance. Whether cities authorize skateparks through deregulation or funding purpose-built construction, the conventionally radical and outsider skate community becomes participant in official processes and control. Continue reading “SK8: Urban innovation and governance in the spatial and social design of skateparks”

Marginal Vernaculars and Place-Making Tactics

Presented at: Unsettling Heritage: Critical/Creative Conservation, Carleton Heritage Conservation Symposium 2015. Ottawa ON.

Abstract: In recent years, tactical urbanism has captured popular imagination. Its hands-on and bottom-up alternative practice of urban place-making encourages citizens to respond to their environment directly with ad hoc and relatively minimal or temporary transformations—often as a form of protest to the expected function or design of public space. This approach is set in direct contrast to the formally-driven design and future-oriented methodologies of the planning profession. Though framed as a form of ‘participatory urbanism’, it is important to note that tactical urbanism often operates around, rather than in direct collaboration with, official and authoritative professional structures of urban planning. Continue reading “Marginal Vernaculars and Place-Making Tactics”

Wandering dwellings: Diasporic architectures

Presented at: Diasporas: Exploring Critical Issues. 5th Global Conference 2012. Oxford UK.

Abstract: Historically, the Wandering Jew is perceived of as dehumanized and rendered eternally homeless through the Euro-Christian construction of the his self and his home as Other. Rather than a representation of the intrinsic existential condition of the Diaspora, the tragic homelessness experienced by the Wandering Jew is, I argue, a hegemonic construct of Euro-Christian ideology. According to what Daniel Boyarin calls “diasporic consciousness”, the Jewish people identify with a multiplicity of places simultaneously, carrying a sense of the familiar into the foreign. Continue reading “Wandering dwellings: Diasporic architectures”

Return to a Foreign Home

Presented at: Homelands: Diasporas Return. Kultrans 2010, University of Oslo. Oslo, Norway.

Abstract: Historically, the Jewish People identified with a multiplicity of places simultaneously, carrying a sense of the familiar into the foreign, and navigating between seemingly contradictory states – interior/exterior, permanent/transient, mind/body, local/foreign. This is what Daniel Boyarin has called the Diasporic consciousness of the Jewish People. In this context home is understood as a mediator in a nuanced existence between the perceived and constructed dualities of life, and facilitator of transition – a journey rather than a rooted existence. Continue reading “Return to a Foreign Home”

Wandering Dwellings: the Diasporic Home

Presented at: A Celebration of Jewish Studies in Ottawa 2007. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa ON.

Abstract: Deeply rooted in Jewish tradition, the “Home” becomes the intersection of the transient self and the stationary architecture where the self is free to recollect in its interiority and simultaneously position itself in relationship with the exterior elements. Both the function and form of the architecture of “Home” are understood as a (1) mnemonic device to evoke recollection and (2) facilitator of physical relationship with the other through its openings and transitional spaces. The re-construction of a Jewish home is therefore intrinsically tied to a re-collection of the fragmented cultural and tectonic memories of house images carried by the Diaspora, specifically the importance attributed to the mezuzah, talit, tefilin, the sukkah and eruvim. The Wandering Jew suggests a framework for reinterpreting the relationship between the heimliche (literally the home, rootedness, hidden, or burried), the unheimliche.