In this essay, Sarah Gelbard reflects on the messy relationship between punk, anarchy, and anarchism and ways it can be conceived of as identity, politics, scene, performance, and/or practice. For punks in academia and academics studying punk, how do we position ourselves in relation to the work, to power, and with our comrades?
in the dark on empty streets deserted parks and alleys […]
The future-oriented utopian cities of urban planning imaginaries sit in stark contrast to actual or existing cities. Behind policies for beautification and rejuvenation is the socio-political ugliness of capitalism, patriarchy, colonialism, and racism. In some of the most depressed and ugly parts of the city, we can find spaces of resistance based in camaraderie, mutual-aid, care, and joy. My doctoral research looks to marginalized and alternative urban groups for ways to reinterpret, resist, and refuse mainstream urban narratives and planning practices.
26 October 2019
Presented at ACSP Annual Meeting, Greenville SC
“We shall define planning as future-oriented, public decision-making directed toward attaining specific goals.” (Fainstein & Fainstein 1971)
For decades, marxist, feminist, indigenous, and black scholars have offered critical deconstruction of the different expressions of democracy and rationality in planning and the ways they privilege capitalist, patriarchal, settler-colonial, Western interests. They have challenged the desire for justice, order, and efficiency—recognizing that these are hegemonic constructs supported by institutions that have historically and continue to exclude and burden marginalized groups. Far less attention has been focused on targeting and challenging the third defining criteria of planning, its future-orientation. When pursued uncritically, this future-orientation similarly risks reproducing hegemonic forms of oppression and exclusion. One potential dimension through which to consider why and how marginalized groups are excluded from planning is through their alternative temporalities, including the negation of future. What is the future planning plans for and who is the public planning plans for? What power does planning have to shape the public by planning towards a specific future? How do non-conforming and marginalized groups resist the normalizing forces of the future public and of a public future?Continue reading “Future dis-oriented and punk placemaking”→
6 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”→
As part of my research on punk spaces, I have been tracking the shows I attend. These are mostly punk shows, mostly small/local bands, and mostly in Ottawa venues but do include some out of town shows and other genres.
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”→
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”→
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”→
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”→
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.