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GEOG | Public Space Department of Geography Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies York University Summer 2012 Class 2 Scenes from a Washroom: What is Public Space? Class 2 10 May GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris
Boundary Crossings at the Public/Private Divide Legal distinctions rely on categories and absolutes; e.g., division between public and private (spatial) spheres. Property (public or private) as part of the material expression of power. “The spatially defined environments we move in—the homes, workplaces, streets, neighborhood shops and so on—can serve to reflect and reinforce legal relations of power through complex and layered spatial processes and practices.” (283) Boundaries as spaces that communicate (and reinforce) legal meanings [“law provides hegemonic categories through which social life is ordered.”] – but which also open up ‘space’ for resisting, renengotiating, redefining (or at least transgressing) such norms. Function of visible markers: fences, hedges, signs, etc. – and legal implications re: adverse possession. Lived experiences of place, however, suggest these boundaries are fluid, flexible and mutable. Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 2
... Cont’d. History of public/private re: land and territory – two classes: private landowners and the state. But considerable overlap, as well as rupture, between these classes. Sleeping in public places; homelessness; graffiti; prostitution; religious practice (eruv example) – reveal that such boundaries are illusory, perhaps ideological. Legal notion of encroachment (e.g., Kensington Market stalls); public gardens “encroachment gardens”) Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 3
Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 4
Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 5
Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 6
Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 7
(Disturbing) The Dialects of the Public Toilet How do washrooms influence (or are influenced by) gender norms; e.g., gender as binary (m/f) and/or continuum? Judith Butler on performativity and the gendered subject (‘performance’ vs. ‘performativity’) To be a subject is also to be subjugated (Butler) Butler: “gender is a practice of improvisation within a scene of constraint.” Judith Halberstam on gender policing / surveillance. Notions of gender transparency (e.g., urinals; make-up counters) The washroom as a metaphorical closet with respect to discursive taboos – a closet that marks a threshold between public/private (‘privy’) space but also between (among?) genders. A (liminal) space where gender norms are simultaneously reinforced and opened up to challenge. Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 8
Scenes from a Washroom Artists performing poetry from behind a closed washroom stall door – what it means to speak (to perform) in such a space. ‘Toilet Door Poetry’ project (2004); ‘The Water Closet’ (2006) – art as graffiti as art (see Booker’s “Scratch”) Boys Don’t Cry (film; 1999) Scene from The Pursuit of Happyness (film; 2006) and Trainspotting (film; 1996). Washroom etiquette Class 2 10 May 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 9
Image Sources Kohler toilet: Toilet paper: Woman / man image: Toilet kitten: Week 2 10 January 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 10
Week 2 10 January 2012 GEOG 4900 | Public Space Copyright © Amy Lavender Harris 11
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