DIALOGUES ON CONFLICT - Urban Space: Exposing the Politics of Social Control

Date posted: November 11, 2014

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Thursday, 4th December 2014, 1-5.30pm

Speakers:  Dr Nicholas De Genova, Javier Ruiz Diaz, Hanna Baumann and Anna Lermon

How do society’s urban and technological infrastructures exercise social, physical and psychological control?  This seminar will bring together academics and campaigners to explore and discuss the tensions, struggles and resilience in the urban landscape.

Urban Space: Exposing the Politics of Social Control is the third and final seminar in the Dialogue series which aims to focus on a range of themes from the art practice of a selection of shortlisted artists in Artes Mundi 6. Each seminar will bring together a range of speakers, academics, theorists and professionals to touch on and open up discussions.

Chair: Bella Kerr

Kerr studied at Central School of Art, Middlesex and Goldsmiths College and is a practitioner and lecturer in fine art. Drawing has provided continuity in a practice that has spanned installation, small-scale multiples, film, set design and photography, shown in a range of contexts from film screenings in major London galleries, to museums, and regional galleries. Recent work has been expressed in the form of large-scale installation, practice based and written research, digital prints and participatory and curatorial work including CIVIC at Mission Gallery, Swansea.

Listen HERE


Dr Nicholas De Genova

The Incorrigible Subject of the Migrant Metropolis

The material and practical techniques and technologies of contemporary border policing and immigration law enforcement are only apprehensible in relation to “irregular” or “illegal” migrants. These humble border crossers represent the incorrigible subject of virtually all contemporary border regimes. In response to these the diverse infrastructures and practices of border patrol must be understood to be that of reaction formations. Migrants with their own aspirations, needs, and desires, which exceed and overflow any regime of immigration and citizenship, enact a freedom of movement to which borders are a response.  However, rather than perceive the appearance of borders as purely exclusionary, it is crucial to see the contradictory processes that are facilitated by border controls.  Hence, the exclusion reveals itself to be an inclusive process of labor subordination.  The transnational nature of migrants helps to reveal this “other side” of exclusionary borders and restrictive immigration policies – the “obscene of inclusion.” The migrant metropolis thus becomes an extension of these borders into the nation-state space through immigration law enforcement a disruptive force that dislocates borders and redirect struggles as urban struggles.

Nicholas De Genova is Reader in Urban Geography and Director of the Cities Research Group at King’s College London

Listen HERE



Javier Ruiz Diaz 

GCHQ: The NSA’s Little Brother…not so little anymore

The documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the United Kingdom  is collecting information on millions of innocent citizens worldwide, in breach of human rights. British spies are also spreading malicious software, breaking internet security and carrying out attacks against protest groups, companies and other actors that are not terrorists or serious criminals. So far the attention of most of the international media and public opinion has focused almost exclusively on the National Security Agency (NSA)the signals intelligence agency of the United States (US). But the NSA operates a global surveillance machine that relies on a network of key partners ranging from Israel to Sweden. First and foremost is its UK counterpart, the General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). It is important that civil society organizations throughout the world concerned about mass surveillance broaden the focus of their attention from the US and the NSA to include the UK and GCHQ. This paper willsummarise some of the key activities of UK surveillance agencies exposed by Edward Snowden.

Javier Ruiz Diaz is Policy Director at The Open Rights Group (ORG) a UK-based organization that works to preserve digital rights and freedoms by campaigning on digital rights issuesand fostering a community of grassroots activists.

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Hanna Baumann

Infrastructural Violence: marginalisation and control in East Jerusalem

The social effects of the unequal distribution of resources and services such as water, electricity, sewage and garbage removal, mail delivery, and transportation have been termed ‘infrastructural violence’. In East Jerusalem, I argue, violence is exerted not only by exclusion from access to utilities, but at times also by connecting Palestinian areas to Israeli networks. Here, infrastructure serves as a key tool for appropriating urban space and, in the long run, annexing territory. It does so by expanding the reach of state control, including through securitisation, by permanently consolidating territorial changes, and by undermining resource sovereignty.

In my dissertation research I discuss infrastructures as a means of exercising control over territory, but also highlight their role as a link between state policy and military strategy on the one hand and urban everyday life and embodied experience on the other. I use infrastructure as a vehicle to examine the in-between status of East Jerusalem, which has been annexed by Israel, but which Palestinians continue to hope will one day serve as their capital, and the ambivalent response of Palestinians to the infrastructural violence they experience.

Hanna is a PhD Candidate in Architecture King’s College, University of Cambridge and Convenor of the City Seminar at CRASSH

Listen HERE


Anna Lermon

The Civic Trust for Wales

The Civic Trust for Wales was founded fifty years ago. Now, as then, the values of civic pride and sense of place remain important in shaping and maintaining vibrant communities and liveable places. The Civic Trust supports a network of over 50 civic societies, all voluntary groups, across the country in their work with heritage, planning, development and regeneration.  The Civic Trust maintains an informative website (www.civictrustwales.org) with articles covering policy updates, issues of concern to societies, case studies of society best practice e.g. engagement in the Local Development Plan. For the last year three years the Trust has been involved in urban characterisation where we have produced a manual and toolkit to support voluntary sector engagement in characterisation. We’re also supporting a number of societies to undertake characterisation studies. The Trust is also the Secretariat of the Wales Heritage Group, a group made up of organisations such as SPAB, Victorian Society, Georgian Group, and the Welsh Religious Buildings Trust.

If we are to plan and build better communities, and to make the streets of towns and cities more liveable, it is important to understand the factors that contribute – negatively as well as positively – to urban character. At The Civic Trust of Wales we believe it’s important to look at the town as a whole , not just the  historic areas which are often protected. The Civic Trust has worked with three civic societies, one of which is the Newtown and District Civic Society, to develop a manual and toolkit called ‘Exploring your town’ to assist community groups explore the character of their streets and towns, and to build capacity to engage in planning, development and regeneration issues. The talk will explain the process involved in undertaking a ‘characterisation’ study and briefly outline some of the findings in Newtown, and the lessons learnt during the process.

Anna Lermon, Project Officer, The Civic Trust for Wales

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Past Dialogues

‘Conflict through the Eye of the Lens‘, MOSTYN ac Feminist Perspective Art Practice’University of Wales, Trinity St David Swansea Campus.

Dialogues on Conflict series is funded by Arts Council Wales, Audience development grant in partnership with University of Wales, Trinity St David Swansea Campus, Oriel Davies Gallery, MOSTYN.

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