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: Resilience
Small spaces often initiate urban transformations as different constituencies seek to re-/shape these spaces to best fit their needs or to experiment with emergent ideas and practices. In what looks like random activities of trial and error, residents, users, and activists develop and refine practices, expressions, and activities to insert their voices and secure their position in the city. The needs of minority cultures, economic necessity, or emergent cultural, social and political movements are driving forces of activities in many small urban spaces. These emergent spaces can become sites of urban cultural beginnings, as they exemplify dynamics of resistance, resilience, and adaptation and challenge existing urban forms. Some actors formulate concrete goals for their spaces. Others act based on established shared practices.
This panel explores emergent spaces where migrants, minorities or activists create new places, opportunities, or produce social change. Papers examine how disenfranchised migrants and culturally marginalized groups claim and remake spaces temporarily or permanently to accommodate their needs. They analyze how even smallest spaces like a plaza or park accommodate shared needs of residents in the face of larger urban transformations. These spaces allow for urbanites to gather, discuss, and voice their discontent, and experiment with new forms of sociability and protest. Theoretically, this panel examines emergent spaces, their potentials for change and the opportunities they create in cities. Central here is Sharon Zukin's notions of "urban beginnings" and the "authenticity" of emerging spaces in the face of powerful homogenized forms of neoliberal cities.
Papers examine spaces in Ecuador, Chile, Spain, Brazil, Canada and the USA. Authors introduce actors, their motivations, struggles, creative activities and protests. They illustrate how the availability of accessible public spaces like parks is fundamental to quests for localization (migrants) and participation in the city. Papers explore dynamics of place-making, economic survival, politics of care, new forms of sociality and leisure, forms of protest, struggles over spaces and the quest for new forms urban relationships and shared living. These questions frame this panel: what agendas and dynamics shape emergent spaces? What are central demands and activities that are articulated in emergent spaces? What kind of better cities do participants and activists envision on these often contested emergent spaces?
Papers discuss how migrants in Santiago gather and socialize in a central plaza and make claims about urban belonging and visibility; how residents formulate new modes of care, cooperation and reproduction in an apartment building and a neighborhood park in Barcelona; how an underground community of bohemians carves out temporary nocturnal spaces to challenge the city and experiment with forms of self-presentation and relationships; how activists in Barcelona and Vancouver provide free meals in parks as an experiment of a shared economy and alternative lifestyles; how "accidental" migrants from South Asia create new spaces solidarity and power in Ecuador and Chile; and how people in Philadelphia tried to stem the powerful tide of profitable urban development projects and protect a park and the rights of its local homeless population.