Spatial Narratives of Revolt and Performance

GS Conflict 

Spatial Narratives of Revolt and Performance in Public Spaces: The Case of Tokyo, Japan.  

This is a collaborative project led by Dr Gehan Selim and funded by the Japan Foundation London and the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS).   The project aims to report on and decode terrains of social movements in modern cities’ public space as a global phenomenon of practicing non-institutionalized democracy. The project develops analytical map of spatial practices that echoed public rejection of governance and accommodated riots in Europe, the Middle East and Asia since 2011. Case studies include Egypt’s Tahrir Square, London’s Occupy movement, Istanbul’s Taksim Square, in addition to Shinjuku’s Street Protests. The project recognizes the emergence of the public space as a political forum that is increasingly exploited through spatial practices, street performance, art displays and social movements. The project develops an innovative approach to study new meanings of occupation by mapping spatial actions as a language of power and resistance. Building on the French philosopher Michel De Certeau’s thesis of the occupation of space as a tactic that is “an art of the weak”, this project investigates whether the spatial sequence and selective acts of display (trajectories and sit-ins) have been effective in transforming the meaning of public space from its bureaucratic nature into a space of democracy in different contexts and situations.  


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