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

Authors: Sarah Gelbard*, McGill University
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Cultural Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: punk, cultural studies, radical planning, spaces of struggle, city image, city identity, subculture, disorder, safe space, marginality, safety, equity, inclusivity, accessibility,
Session Type: Interactive Short Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Jackson, Marriott, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


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. From a punk(‘s) perspective, I argue that safety, inclusivity, and accessibility—or at least a particular image thereof—seem to be increasingly mobilized by the most privileged in our cities. Punks hold up a sometimes brutally honest mirror to the city and questions why it tries so hard to cover up what (or who) it tries to cover up. Punk disrupts our image of (dis)ease, (un)desirability, (im)purity, and (dis)order in our city, often by reproducing it only to subvert it again. In this paper, I draw on The Uses of Disorder (Sennett 1970) and Subculture the Meaning of Style (Hebdige 1979) as key urban cultural studies texts to guide my analysis of punk music, politics, and place-making tactics as counter-praxis in Canada’s capital city. (2013, Parking Lot City. Four-Stroke. on Work Today, Paid Today, Drunk Tonight.)

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