Places of resistance
L’espace perçu, l’espace conçu, l’espace vécu
(Lefebvre 1991, 33-38)
The current crises — economic, political, and social — are, in one sense, certainly a ‘breakdown’ of the existing order, or what Gramsci termed a ‘crisis of hegemony’: whereby the perceived legitimacy of the existing order evaporates:
1) Prevalence of the occupation of public squares in contemporary mobilizations, which often take inspiration from the occupation of Tahrir (Freedom) Square in the Egyptian Revolution. widely broadcast by international media. (attempt by student activists in the UK to occupy London’s Trafalgar Square for 24 hours and turn it into Tahrir Square, Indignados movement in Spain. occupation of public squares, most notably the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and the Plaça Catalunya in Barcelona).
2) Remaining in the eye of international media and allowing crowds to coalesce for the purpose of self-defense in the face of brutal repression. public space is taken as the focus of resistance.
Lefebvre argues that social space “is not a thing among other things, nor a product among other products: rather, it subsumes things produced and encompasses their interrelationships in their coexistence and simultaneity”. Social space, then, is not a rigid and static object, but is a set of relations between objects that is constantly in a state of flux (Lefebvre 1991, 83).
Every political idea defines a space and every space defines a political idea.
Interface: a journal for and about social movementsVolume 4 (1): 251 – 273 (May 2012)Dhaliwal, Public squares and resistance
(I) The first, ‘spatial practices’ (l’espace perçu), refers to space in its real, physical form, as it is perceived and generated;
- The representation of public squares.
- Space as it is conceived.
- Designed, and produced by dominant groups and institutions in society.
- Capitalist relations of production and the social order. Dominant spatial relations under capitalism are, for Lefebvre, characterized by abstraction.
- In Marxian terms, space is conceived so as to maximize its commercial exchange value rather than to enhance its use value for local communities.
- Depoliticized spaces.
(II) The second, ‘representations of space’ (l’espace conçu), refers to space in its imagined, mental form, as it is conceived and imagined; (signs, codes, and routines of social space, spatial practices).
(III) The third, ‘representational spaces’ (l’espace vécu), refers to space as it is lived and modified over time through its use. This form of space is both real-and imagined (Lefebvre 1991, 33-38).
La forme des places
( l’espace perçu )
The first urban formations:
6000 years ago.
City squares were stablished at the cross roads of important trade routes.
Major places of worship were placed on squares.
Also used as markets.
Served as an opportunity to exercise the power of the rulers with military processions and parades.
Squares were the center of communities, and they traditionally helped shape the identity of entire cities.
The image of many squares was closely tied to the great civic buildings located nearby, such as cathedrals, city halls, or libraries.
Function of squares:
Gathering place for people.
Shelter against the traffic.
Freeing people from the tension of rushing through the web of street.
Psychological parking place within the civic landscape.
Most town squares are hardscape suitable for open markets, music concerts, political rallies, and other events that require firm ground.
Reasons for development of squares.
Societal structure and psychological attitude of people.
Led to a form of public life and life in public.
Made street and square the natural local for community activities and presentations.