The challenge of distance in designing civil protest: the case of Resurrection City in the Washington Mall and the Occupy Movement in Zuccotti Park

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the way people define and challenge practices of distance during protest and the way protesters disrupt ‘generally established and universally visible and valid distances’ associated with the place. In illuminating these ideas, two case studies with seemingly similar socio-spatial characteristics are explored. The first case was initiated by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and aimed to call attention to the nation's neediest people by embarking on the ‘Poor People's Campaign’, which settled people on the National Mall in an encampment they called Resurrection City (RC). The second action, the Occupy Movement, was an international protest movement directed towards social and economic inequality. The Occupy Movement called upon protesters to ‘flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months’ to call attention to the inequalities of global capitalism. The paper interprets the strategies and tactics used by the Poor People's Campaign and the Occupy Movement to challenge distance, concluding with some reflections on the way contemporary forms of dissent are changing the way we perceive public space and its politics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-282
Number of pages30
JournalPlanning Perspectives
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2016

Keywords

  • information and communication technologies
  • protest
  • public space
  • urban design and planning

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