Tahrir Square - February 9, 2011

Erik Swyngedouw at the School of Environment and Development offers us the following intervention into on-going debates over the place of public space in the enactment of politics. A longer version is forthcoming in Political Geography.

Tiananmen square, Place de la Bastille, Red Square, Alexanderplatz, Tahrir square, Assaha-al-Khadra, Syntagma Square, Green Square, Wenceslas square: these are just a few of the public spaces that have become engrained in our symbolic universe as emblematic sites of revolutionary geographies. Their names stand as points de capiton that quilt a chain of meaning through signifiers like democracy, revolution, freedom, being-in-common, solidarity, emancipation. The emergence of political space, these examples suggest, unfolds through a political act that stages collectively the presumption of equality and affirms the ability of ‘the people’ to self-manage and organize its affairs. It is an active process of intervention through which (public) space is reconfigured and through which – if…

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