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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 IV Exploring a Hidden Geography in Detroit



Exploring a Hidden Geography in Detroit

The final chapters of the book entail our research concerning hidden geographies in Detroit, Michigan. In that research, we demonstrate one communicative strategy for the democratization of hidden geography, which we refer to as diffused intertextual production. This particular strategy entails the simultaneous presence of an intertextual frame with an interactive media platform. In the case of Detroit, we found that this strategy allowed for a group of citizens to reimagine the physical environment as inviting and interesting, which altered their pathways through—and interactions with—the city around them. In Chapter 7, we provide a detailed description of this communicative strategy, and how it was manifest in the web community. In Chapter 8, we illustrate the ways in which diffused intertextual production influenced the performances of the members of the community. Finally, Chapter 9 reveals the potential that this communicative strategy holds for the construction of bridges between communities separated by the hidden geography. Overall, Part IV accomplishes the following:

1. Explains and demonstrates the concept of diffused intertextual production.

2. Depicts the emergence of a participatory civic identity associated with the new knowledge that is constructed from diffused intertextual production.

3. Demonstrates the performance of standpoint by members of the web community, as they interact with the physical environment of Detroit.

4. Illustrates one case in which diffused intertextual production allowed for a community isolated in the hidden...

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