Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Cities
Secondary Theme: Resistance
Urban transformations are often rooted in small spaces, where people experiment with emergent ideas and practices. In what looks like random activities of trial and error, constituencies develop, test, and rework practices, expressions, and activities to insert their voices into cityscapes. Activities are often rooted in minority cultures, economic necessity, or emergent cultural, social and political movements. Emergent spaces can become sites of urban cultural beginnings, as they exemplify dynamics of resistance, resilience, and adaptation and challenge existing urban forms. They have diverse characteristics and reflect complex motivations. Some stakeholders pronounce concrete goals for their spaces. Others simply act according to their habits. Some aim at neighborhood changes and other have larger goals.
This panel explores emergent space where urbanites remake urban life, culture, and politics. Analysts often center their debates on specific themes and address only one issue (e.g. housing, environment, religion). This panel explores spaces from several conceptual angles. It juxtaposes spaces and constituencies that formulate their activities/activism based on different motives. Some are faith-based, others reflect environmental concerns, focus on quests of citizenship or social and economic justice, or reflect complex articulations of motivational factors. Theoretically, this panel examines emergent spaces, their potentials for change, and the opportunities they create in cities. Central to this panel is Sharon Zukin's notions of "urban beginnings" and the "authenticity" of emerging spaces in the face of powerful homogenized forms of neoliberal cities.
Authors explore small spaces all over the globe and analyze their contributions in neighborhoods and cities. Authors illustrate how these spaces allow ordinary citizens to experiment with new forms, practices, and relationships and create opportunities for cultural expression, survival, and participation. Emergent spaces foster the localization of migrant lives, cultures, and religions, experiments with green practices, and articulate new forms of urban living. Papers explore dynamics of place-making, cultural negotiations, economic survival, spatial and cultural experimentation, and the creation of new relationships and alliances. These questions frame this panel: what agendas and dynamics shape emergent spaces? What makes some spaces successful as they become established urban features and contribute to urban transformations? What potentials for change do emergent spaces have in their vicinity and cities at large?
Papers discuss how Christians in Shanghai create spaces of civil exchange and debate where Christianity can be publicly discussed; how ordinary urbanites in Bogota create economic opportunities in housing projects defying government regulations; how pious Muslim women in Islamabad seek to remake the city via religious meetings in their living-rooms; how green and alternative businesses make an increasingly visible and viable contribution in Stuttgart; how pious Muslims in Phoenix experiment with religious and cultural practices in public spaces in processes of self-making and place-making how migrants are actively involved in city-making processes in Santiago, Chile; and how an activist group in Detroit brings people together for shared meals while simultaneously facilitating larger transformations of urban life and spaces.