Staging Dissent: Urban geographies of empowerment and resistance

Authors: Kimberley Kinder*, University of Michigan
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Urban, social movements, placemaking
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this moment of political turmoil, public demonstrations have become an everyday occurrence in many US cities. This street-theater of public protest has a geography. Like flows of capital and chains of migration, activism gets structured into geographic circuits with nodes, pathways, and hotspots. Public demonstrations, however, are only the most visible tip of a much larger socio-spatial infrastructure of dissent. Participants in contentious politics rely on off-stage spaces sheltered from the public eye to develop goals and strategies before taking the movement to the streets. This behind-the-scenes organizing has a geography, as well. This paper explores the making of these behind-the-scenes spaces. Using the example of spaces organized around text and activism, this paper analyzes the physical, regulatory, and symbolic strategies activists use to create hotspots for radical organizing. It explains concrete steps activists are taking to transform everyday urban spaces into platforms for empowerment and dissent.

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