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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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7 Diffused Intertextual Production



Diffused Intertextual Production

As demonstrated in the previous chapters, spaces in contemporary society are often made unruly because of the degradations that occur in the physical environment. The second part of this book provided detailed descriptions of the creation, or acceleration, of such degradation and unruliness of spaces in cities like Flint from austerity that stem from resentment and neoliberalism. However, we have found over the years that citizens are able to create a sense of control over such unruly spaces, as in the case of Wildcat Hollow and Germany. In those cases, and others like them, democratization, media environments, or mediascapes, were integral for the formation of alternatives to the physical environments that citizens encounter in their everyday lives. In the case of Wildcat Hollow, the traditional families in that region constructed a trust network in order to counter the unruliness that stemmed from the rural gentrification that had deeply eroded their agricultural economic base. The resistance performed by certain members of the trust network was grounded in the logic and worldviews espoused through conservative alternative media, which influenced the way in which they created a sense of control over the unruly enclave around them. In the cases from Germany, historical markers in Mannheim and the DDR Museum in Berlin both highlighted lost spaces in the urban environments. The consumption of texts utilized in all of these ←169 | 170→cases constructed new knowledges, which initiated ritualistic examinations of physical environments that had become unruly....

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