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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 III Rediscovering Lost Spaces in Germany



Rediscovering Lost Spaces in Germany

The following chapters explore communicative strategies for the democratization of unruly spaces that are shaped or influenced by the global forces described in Part II. In particular, these chapters examine strategies utilized in two German cities to draw attention to lost spaces in the physical environment. These lost spaces had proven problematic, as scholars and writers had written extensively about the negative psychological and emotional impacts of the bland and blasé architecture that arose following the Second World War. Feelings of isolation and angst were a constant threat to the communicative qualities of these cities, and held the potential to feed growing feelings of resentment. In Chapter 5, we introduce the strategy of transformative memory revival, which was accomplished through the installation of historical markers into the physical environment. These markers drew attention to lost spaces, and called for citizens to explore environments they would otherwise avoid. In Chapter 6, we demonstrate a substrategy called transformative memory modification. Specifically, we examine one museum in Berlin that uses exhibits and acoustic organization of space to emphasize the importance of sites tied to Germany’s socialist past. Overall, Part II of the book accomplishes the following:

1. Explains and demonstrates the concept of transformative memory revival, and the related substrategy of transformative memory modification.

2. Explains the relationship between mediated texts and the construction of identity.

3. Explores the organization of space in the construction of...

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