Leisure, Placemaking, and the Right to the City

Authors: Troy Glover*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Recreational and Sport Geography, Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: Tactical urbanism, DIY placemaking, recreation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper focuses on leisure, broadly defined, as an intentional tactic used by urban inhabitants to assert their “right to the city” (Lefebvre, 1996). Described by Harvey (2008, p. 23) as “a right to change ourselves by changing the city”, the right to the city underpins two principal rights: (1) the right to participation, and (2) the right to appropriation. The former envisions a central role for urban inhabitants to play in any decision that contributes to the production of urban space, while the latter imagines the right of inhabitants to physically access, occupy, and use urban space (Purcell, 2002). With these understandings in mind, the transformative possibilities of leisure will be examined as a potentially emancipatory practice used in cities to re-code public space and advance social change through the “animation of public space”, what Glover (2015, p. 96) described as “the deliberate, usually temporary, employment of festivals, events, programmed activities, or pop-up leisure to transform, enliven, and/or alter public spaces and stage urban life.” Animation practices, the presentation will show, dissolve the borders between art, protest, and everyday life by advancing what Coombs (2012) termed “gentle activism” to provoke the public and raise awareness about local issues, while seeking to help participants imagine different ways of negotiating city life. To illustrate, various animation tactics will be discussed as efforts to (re)claim public space for social and political impact.

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