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Performative interventions to re-claim, re-define and produce public space in different cultural and political contexts

Amro Yaghi (The University of Sheffield School of Architecture, Sheffield, UK)
Doina Petrescu (The University of Sheffield School of Architecture, Sheffield, UK)
Krzysztof Nawratek (The University of Sheffield School of Architecture, Sheffield, UK)

Archnet-IJAR

ISSN: 2631-6862

Article publication date: 23 September 2019

Issue publication date: 21 October 2019

615

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to ask how forms of “performative” interventions can prompt processes of re-thinking, which can, in turn, instigate the critical production of public space. Most importantly, it also asks how this methodology can manifest within various cultural and political contexts. Today, public spaces tend to be controlled either by the state or by private corporations. Neoliberal policies promote commercial interests, which subsequently drives inequality and determines what can and cannot be accessed by the public. The public spaces that are currently present in the neoliberal cities are, in fact, “pseudo” public spaces.

Design/methodology/approach

In an attempt to form new understandings of this problem, the authors’ approach is rooted in feminist theories of performativity, which focus on how identities are persistently re-produced through performance. These theories consider how the “self” is always entangled within everyday life interactions and how it is shaped by both societal and bodily practices. Framing spaces as shapable, informed by the embodied dialectic relations between spaces and social relations, the study uses forms of performative methodology to create productive disruptions and “constructed situations” (Debord, 2012). This methodology consists of intervention within these spaces in order to produce alternative public space and forms of publicness. Based on research conducted at the Sheffield School of Architecture, as well as a four-day invited workshop at the Floating University Berlin, this study investigates applications of performative practice methodology in the cities of Amman and Berlin.

Findings

The paper will begin by exploring how the two cities are regulated through various political and planning policies that affect public spaces. This line of enquiry will also involve questioning physical, social and political access to public space in these contexts and analysing the various actants, performative actions and processes that were involved in producing performative interventions.

Originality/value

The paper will conclude by discussing the potential and limitations of applying and translating such approaches in public spaces within different cultural and political contexts. As such, the study proposes a new methodological framework for re-thinking and provoking the critical production of public space through forms of performative spatial practice.

Keywords

Citation

Yaghi, A., Petrescu, D. and Nawratek, K. (2019), "Performative interventions to re-claim, re-define and produce public space in different cultural and political contexts", Archnet-IJAR, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 718-735. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARCH-04-2019-0077

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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