City unsilenced: public space and urban democracy on trial Sabine Knierbein

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Around the world, the shrinking capacity of (formal) democratic process has left protesters and ordinary citizens with no other resort than to take to the streets, the emblematic space of the publics, for reinstating democracy. Shrinking democracy, coupled with economic restructuring, constitutes an underlying challenge facing cities and communities around the world. Public space, as a building block and medium of political engagement and social interactions, may represent an alternative space and a vehicle of resistance against systems of shrinking democracy. In its capacity as a vehicle for active democracy, public space in contemporary society deserves greater care, attention, and critical reflection. As movements evolve to confront new challenges, explore new opportunities, negotiate with new actors and circumstances, and utilizing new technologies and platforms, our understanding of the role and agency of public space as lived and political space must also advance. This is precisely the objective of exploring the linkages between urban resistance and public space in the age of shrinking democracy. With this work and others to follow, we continue to explore public space as sites of renewed hope and possibilities in the quest for a more just, enduring, and democratic urban(ized) society.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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