Geographies of Political Actions: Protests and Urban Spaces in the 21st Century

Limited to 10

A protest-event, an act of publicly displaying particular grievances, aims at negotiating and challenging an existing social order or political power. Indeed, protest events have been embedded in urban life throughout the history of cities. Especially since the beginning of the 20thcentury, social challenges forced politicians to court the masses in public arenas—the same arenas that were also used as platforms to challenge political rule. Today, protest events have been normalized and become part of everyday life in cities with competing groupsseeking to bring about social changes. The protests in Spain fighting for and against Catalonian independence, protests against and for EU economic policies in Greece, protests against and for refugees in Germany, and protests against and for Brexist in UK are just a few examples of the public and physical manifestation of competing groups. Contemporary protest-event dynamics are not new but evolutionary, marking a new phase in the civilian conciseness of the people’s own power over political actors and political orders. This participation process should be viewed in the context of the communications revolution and the fragmentation of the homogeny of societies, which fueled ideological contestations and the fight over resources. 

This short seminar covers new directions in urban theory with a focus on civil participation and public spaces.  During the course of 4 sessions, students will be introduced to the following conceptual frameworks and debates:

  1. Politics: The challenge of liberal democracies in contemporary times. 
  2. Technology: The role of communication and media in civil participation. 
  3. Place: The varied dimensions in Strategizing and planning the physicality of protests.  
  4. Design: An introduction to spatial choreographies of protests. 

Course Requirements: Students must attend all 4 sessions of the course and complete assigned readings.  Students will also be expected to submit and present short analytical essays discussing the course readings at each session. 

Professor Tali Hatuka (B.Arch, MSc., PhD), an architect, urban planner, is the Head (and founder) of the Laboratory of contemporary Urban Design, in the Department of Geography and Human Environment at Tel Aviv University. Her work is focused primarily on two main fields: (1) the urban realm and society (i.e., public space, conflicts and dissent); and (2) urban development and city design (i.e., housing and industrial areas). She has researched and published regarding both issues in peer-reviewed journals, books, and edited volumes. Her recent book The Design of Protest: Choreographing Political Demonstrations in Public Space was published in 2018 by the University of Texas Press.