Poems from the street, lyrics from the future

Yesterday’s post has spread like wildfire; thanks for the comments, reposts, tweets, and all the goodness.  #OccupyStudentDebt is close to my heart, even, and perhaps especially, if disagreement about the ‘appropriate’ action continues.  More to come on this topic as the movement and the pledge unfold.

I’m taking tonight off to do some much needed resting and reflection.  Back tomorrow with fresh processing of Stefan Kipfer on Henri Lefebvre and Antonio Gramsci and Erik Swyngedouw on the ‘postpolitical city’ via Jacques Rancière.  Both were subjects of heavy discussion in my “Matters of Nature” course today; I’ve got to let that settle before I try to convey why I think they are a powerful pair to support a full-throated attempt to analyze and speculate on some aspects of the #occupy movement related to spatiality, hegemony, and the ‘properly political’.  Here’s a taste from each.

From Kipfer’s (2008) “How Lefebvre urbanized Gramsci”:

The differential claims of 1968 and its aftermath…now live on in the culturalized neo-racisms and commodified centralities of metropolitan life.  More explicitly than during Fordism, the minimal differences of the current postmodern ‘era of difference’ are central for hegemonic projects in a neo-imperial world that is otherwise characterized by a shift from consent to coercion (unilateralism, militarism, repression, exclusion). Tackling both consensual and coercive aspects of neo-imperial capitalism requires a protracted, dialectical urban strategy to link spectacular protests or promising subterranean practices with each other.  Otherwise, radical spaces of experimentation risk being confined to the acutely segmented experiences that mediate the rapidly urbanizing world order today (207).

From Swyngedouw’s (2009) “The Antinomies of the Postpolitical City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production”:

The political arises when the given order of things is questioned; when those whose voice is only recognized as noise by the police order claim the right to speak, acquire speech.  As such, it disrupts the order of being, exposes he constituent antagonisms and voids that constitute the police order and tests the principle of equality. The proper democratic political sequence, therefore, is not one that seeks justice and equality through governmental procedures on the basis of sociologically defined injustice, but rather starts from the paradigmatic condition of equality or égaliberté, one that is ‘wronged’ by the police order.  Such procedure brings into being a new symbolic ordering, one that transgresses the limitations of police symbolization…Democratic politics is, therefore, always disruptive and transformative (607).


Tonight, I think it’s worth checking out Jan Clausen’s blog, which documents her fantastic project of reading poetry – daily, yes, every day – at Liberty Plaza.  She is a poet, author, activist, community organizer, and extraordinary person; we used to organize together in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn.  I had the privilege to read and to #occupy with her when I was in New York in November.  I hope to meet her again when I return in February for the Association of American Geographer’s (AAG) conference.

’till tomorrow.


Kipfer, Stefan. 2008. “How Lefebvre urbanized Gramsci” in Space, Difference, Everyday Life: Reading Henri Lefebvre. Edited by Kanishka Goonwarenda, Stefan Kipfer, Richard Milgrom, and Christian Schmid. Pp. 193-211. New York City: Routledge.

Swyngedouw, Erik. 2009. “The Antinomies of the Postpolitical City: In Search of a Democratic Politics of Environmental Production”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 33(3):601-620.

1 comment
  1. I respect your piece of work, regards for all the useful blog posts.

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