A Radical Geography Community
After a bit of a break last month we’re back with a superb video abstract from Wayne State University anthropologist Andrew Newman. Andrew’s paper, ‘Gatekeepers of the Urban Commons? Vigilant Citizenship and Neoliberal Space in Multiethnic Paris’, is available now on Early View and will be in print in Antipode 45(4) later this year.
Drawing from ethnographic research on a recently built park in one of Paris’ predominately West African and Maghrebi districts, Andrew seeks to demonstrate how urban design is used to ‘build-in’ neoliberal subjectivities to the city – appropriating a tradition of street democracy held by neighbourhood associations and redirecting their disproportionately middle class, French membership into managerial roles traditionally held by municipal agencies. This neoliberal political subjectivity, which he terms ‘vigilant citizenship’, makes monitoring and controlling the social composition of the urban commons a form of civic engagement for middle class urbanites. In Paris, this vigilance is fuelled by anxieties over the presence of West African and Maghrebi youth in public spaces. Activists do not passively adopt this neoliberal role; they strike a delicate balance as gatekeepers, weighing inclusion against an expectation to maintain a ‘successful’ public space conforming to a republican model of citizenship.
Andrew is a sociocultural anthropologist at Wayne State working on urban political ecology, land-use issues, ‘reclaimed’ urban spaces, social movements, and the relationship between globalisation and the city; you can read more about his research here. He is also part of a team – with Sara Safransky (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Linda Campbell (Building Movement-Detroit), and Danielle Atkinson (Mothering Justice) – in receipt of an Antipode Foundation Scholar-Activist Project Award. Their project, ‘Uniting Detroiters: Coming Together From the Ground Up’, is bringing together residents, activists, and scholars from across the city to investigate the political landscape, diagnose challenges and opportunities for transformative social change, and strengthen and deepen solidarity networks. Expect to hear more from the team later this year…