Nishat Awan (University of Sheffield)
What role do dissenting practices have in the making of urban space? Using two diverse examples, from London and Lahore, I will focus on the performativity of such practices and on the support structures required to make them successful. In London, the focus will be on the recent Occupy movement, and occupation itself as a mode of urban spatial protest. In Lahore, the focus will be on the role of satire and mediatised modes of protest.
Drawing on mapping work carried out by Masters students in Architecture at Sheffield University, the analysis in London will focus on the role of everyday practices in the day-to-day running of the St Pauls camp. The Occupy movement has brought occupation as a mode of protest to a wider audience and has shown how everyday practices of cooking, sleeping and learning together can become powerful modes of action in urban space.
In the case of Lahore, the focus will be on forms of political satire and how these manifest themselves in urban space. In a country that has been under colonial rule, intermittent dictatorships, and where currently public space is under constant threat, the occupation of urban space is not always an easy option. Instead, the mode of protest is ventriloquized, meaning that the medium through which dissent is articulated becomes increasingly important. Historically, this has taken many forms, for example putli tamashae (travelling puppet shows), satirical television characters such as Uncle Sargam, and the important role that wall painting still plays in delivering political slogans and messages.
Despite the very different forms of protest, the talk will focus on the important role that urban space plays in hosting cultures of dissent.
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Photo credit: Cairo street at night, © Ben Snooks, Flickr, via CreativeCommons