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Alternative Spaces/Transformative Places

Democratizing Unruliness in an Age of Austerity


Joshua D. Atkinson and Clayton Rosati

Alternative Spaces/Transformative Places addresses the rise of unruly spaces in society, as well as communicative strategies that citizens and activists may use to democratize them. With the widespread use of austerity measures by governments and cities, unruly spaces are an increasing fixture in our modern world. Cities such as Flint and Detroit in Michigan, Berlin in Germany, and even regions of rural America, have all been damaged by the neoliberal policies that have left cityscapes and physical environments altered and unrecognizable. We now understand that unruliness has become a constant in contemporary globalized society.

As such austerity has degraded infrastructure, depleted local economies, and poisoned neighborhoods, we feel citizens must be empowered to reclaim such unruly spaces themselves. The book explores different strategies for the democratization of such spaces in urban environments, and the potential and problems of each. Such strategies can create alternative perceptions and alter pathways through those spaces—even connect communities hidden from one another.

Students and scholars of urban communication and community activism, as well as human geography, will find the concepts and strategies explored in this book useful. The discussions related to austerity measures provide context for many contemporary neighborhoods and communities that have come to be neglected, while the chapters concerning unruly spaces provide explanations for the difficulty with such neglected or degraded environments. Finally, the illustration of different communicative strategies for the democratization of unruly spaces will demonstrate the possibilities for empowerment within communities that face such problems.

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Part II Global Forces—Austerity & Unruly Spaces



Global Forces—Austerity & Unruly Spaces

The following chapters expand the concept of unruly space by connecting such material environments to policies, problems, and perils associated with modern capitalism and neoliberalism. Specifically, these two chapters explore the different global forces that create unruly spaces in contemporary society, or compound the problems that such spaces pose to communities and regions around the world. Chapter 3 explains some of the key origins of austerity associated with contemporary political and economic policies adopted by many nations and cities over the last few decades. The chapter also illustrates the ways in which unruly spaces impact the material, built environment. Specifically, this chapter explores how such austerity has made spaces in the city of Flint, Michigan invisible—or hidden geographies—and subsequently compounded the deadly problems associated with them. In Chapter 4, we examine the ways ruling elites typically deal with unruly spaces, which often leads to new forms of unruliness. Such was the case in Cairo and the San Francisco Bay area, as police and authoritarian forces disregarded laws and rules about telecommunications to cut off protesters who resisted the global forces of neoliberalism. Overall, Part II of the book accomplished the following:

1. Explains key origins of austerity in contemporary neoliberalism, as well as its connections to politics of resentment.

2. Demonstrates the role of resentment and finance capital in unruliness.

3. Provides evidence for the impact of such unruliness on...

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