2014 Abstracts‎ > ‎

Track 1: Embodied Practices


This session brings together interpretations of everyday embodied practices and forms of resistance in the city (de Certeau 1984), involving a direct engagement with arguments of the visualities and materialities of the public sphere. In different ways, the following authors have contested the traditional notion of resistance as an activity that opposes the dominant structure: performative systems of power (Rose 2002), politics and poetics of walking (Pinder 2011), BMX riders in London (Spinney 2010) and gardening (DeSilvey 2003). In relation, debates surrounding the emotional and affective capacities of bodies (Pile 2010) and the perception/experience of the (built) environment (Ingold 2000; Degen and Rose 2012) open up for discussions of the post-human and the human (Simonsen 2013). This call for papers aims at engaging in discussions about socio-material relations and methodological approaches towards the sensory, mobile, and non-representational.

Key Words: embodied practices, the everyday, cities, beyond resistance, affect, sensory, mobility,        methods

 Chairs: Casper Laing Ebbensgaard and Jan van Duppen


Thomas Keating
1st year PhD Student, Human Geography, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, UK

From ‘embodied affects’ to the ‘transindividual’: Simondon and the pre-individual affectivity of human-technical becoming

The affective turn has resulted in renewed focus on the shortcomings of analyses that figure the human subject as the sole arbiter of agency and intended action. According affect theorists, more needs to be done to theorise a more heterodox politics of the body that is sensitive to the vitality and agency of nonhuman matter. Whilst acknowledging the importance of affect theories in short-circuiting the contemporary reliance of the political capacities of the “sovereign subject”, this paper aims to problematize the reliance of affect theories on thinking through the body as the site of theorising new forms of political resistance by applying Gilbert Simondon’s philosophy of individuation. For Simondon, a failure to “resist” represents a failure of individuation between the ‘pre-individual reality’ and the ‘affective milieu’. Focussing explicitly on his articulation of pre-individual realities and relational events, I contribute to new materialist debates about the location and passage of resistance. Resistance is reposed as an event of negotiation of human and technical being in a process of ontogenetic becoming. To conclude, I outline some of the implications of thinking about the transindividual spatialities of resistance in refiguring human-technological relationships and habits.

Karol Kurnicki

5th year PhD student, Institute of Sociology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland

Ideological Practice. Towards a Social and Spatial Understanding of the Everyday

Henri Lefebvre’s reconceptualization of space and everyday life is inspiring an array of research, yet there still is a need to reconsider and refine the dialectical relation between production of space and the quotidian.

My presentation will point towards possible development of the theory of social production of space with relation to the notion of ideological practice. Ideology here is apprehended as an intermediary between society (which produces its own specific space), and – reversely – as embedded in space and influencing (re)production of society. This kind of ideology is also enmeshed with practice as a concrete, material, bodily action of material production and reproduction of space. The notion of practice is understood, after Pierre Bourdieu, as a social activity resulting from the constraints imposed by social structure but simultaneously reproducing the same structure. To fully comprehend this process, it has to be spatialized and materialized, i.e. practice must entail objects as important elements of social reproduction. Therefore, it has to be added that habituses (and thus practices) are created to a large extent by material conditions of their production and in turn they function as creators of space. To better explain this variegated process I will also recall Luc Boltanski’s concept of regimes of practice.

What can be called embodied practice in the fullest sense is not necessarily strictly non-representational or sensory, but it rather is a dialectical relation which entails both social and material aspects. As such it should can serve as a starting point towards the analysis of both socio-material reproduction and its possible use in politics of resistance.

Jan van Duppen

2nd Year PhD student, Geography, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Wasting Time, Digging Earth, Shifting Grounds – How Urban Gardening enacts the relation between Play and Work

Maria Prieto

4th Year PhD student, Architecture, University of Manchester, UK

Engaging Kinaesthetics to Re-imagine Environmental Design

This paper explores different logics of political engagement of the body in movement in relation to pleasure and environmental design. This study departs from two assumptions. First, instead of situating the body in a specific space and time or a case-study, I centre on the study of the body-in-practice in the ‘space’ of environmental design practice. And secondly, instead of framing the movements of the body as locus of ideological expressions I trace the experiential expressions of pleasure of the body in movement in connection with the surrounding environment. Inspired by the Body Weather practice, the expressions of pleasure of the body-in-practice (delight, play, wit, humour, playfulness, fun, bliss, flight) may have their own distinctiveness but also mutual synergies in relation to both spatial design and choreography practices at play in interchange with a specific environment. Each bodily pleasure becomes a dynamic playground for careful scrutiny to assess and articulate the co-presence and multiple interactions of entities which play off their own ontology against each other in varying scales and registers of political engagement. In an attempt to draw an argument of pleasure in the making, I address the issue of bodily pleasure through the analytical lens of pragmatist studies of architectural design. This paper pursues a twofold aim: to account the situations in which the multiple makings of bodily pleasure become visible and released architecturally, and, in turn, to show how new strategies of bodily pleasure agency are dynamically constituted through the relational threads among multidimensional environmental design processes.

Pedram Dibazar

2nd year Phd Candidate, ASCA (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis), University of Amsterdam

The everyday Practices of the Rooftop

This paper, in contrast to major theories of the everyday life, sets forth an understanding of the rooftop that accords with the quotidian. The mentioned discord is the point of departure for De Certeau’s (1984) spectator, who, in order to attend to practices of the everyday, finds it necessary to descend from the top of the world trade center in New York – a position that provides total visibility – to the ground level of the street, where the story begins on footsteps. (93-97). By presenting the street as the loci of the everyday practices, this account isolates the rooftop as ordinarily inaccessible, therefore alienating it from the lived experience of the everyday. Endorsing this notion are descriptions that find in the rooftop possibilities for ‘escape’, ‘retreat’, and ‘a way out’ of the ordinary.

This paper sets out to associate, rather than dissociate, the rooftop with the quotidian by focusing on Iranian cities. The analysis centers on the practices of chanting political slogans from the rooftops, most notably practiced during the political unrests following the contested presidential elections of 2009 in Iran. A number of concepts touched upon in this regard are: the rooftop’s ambiguous spatial condition stemming from its legal and architectural configuration as a leftover space; the condition of non-visibility, yet audibility, provided by it; its potentiality in challenging the soundscape of the city; and the rhythmic and embodied practices of resistance inherent to its performativity.

Ignacia Ossul

2nd year PhD Candidate Development and Planning Unit, UCL, UK

The politics of home-making practices: Opening space in the city for social justice through the everyday life.

The notion of home has been increasingly incorporated in housing studies in order to complement the hegemonic notion of low-income housing in physical terms. Research and practice usually take into account housing needs and exclude the subjective experience of home that allows understanding resident’s housing aspirations. Through the study of everyday practices, this paper seeks to challenge the way in which needs of residents have been address. It will argue that the embodied practices of slum dwellers are not only routines of subsistence but can be silent ways of resistance (Bayat, 1997) Home-making practices are the intertwined process of generating meaning through the arrangement of space to facilitate these activities (Young, 2000). This paper aims to analyze home-making practices in low-income housing, in order to examine up to what extend everyday practices of residents (can be or) are political acts of contestation to the mode of production of the city. In doing so, this work seeks to contribute to the multidisciplinary debate of the role of housing (as a process and product), specifically to examine housing aspirations providing a critical understanding of ´spatial politics of home´ (Blunt, 2005). It will be illustrated in a case of a pilot project for slum upgrading in Viña del Mar, Chile.

Hanna Baumann

PhD Candidate (2nd year), Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge

Bodies on the Line: Geographical Imaginaries and Material Risks on the Margins of Jerusalem

Using the film 'Infiltrators' by Khaled Jarrar (2013) as well as interviews conducted during fieldwork in and around Jerusalem as a starting point, I will discuss the practices of Palestinians crossing into the city 'illegally', avoiding detection by the Israeli security and surveillance apparatus. I argue that these acts of 'infiltration' can be seen as an embodiment of psychogeographical notions of the homeland, as they refuse to pay heed to legal and physical obstacles imposed by the Israeli occupation. Bearing a significant level of personal risk, these acts, I argue, literally and metaphorically undermine the geography of the occupation and thus create - if only temporarily - an alternate spatial reality.

I juxtapose these notions with the currently ongoing debates on embodiment in Urban Exploration (UrbEx). Mott and Roberts (2013) argue that academic discussions of UrbEx have failed to interrogate the privileged nature of this leisure activity, not accounting for the incapability of 'other' bodies to engage in such practices. While the physical acts involved in first-world UrbEx and Palestinian 'infiltration' are similar (scaling walls, cutting through fences, wading through sewers, evading security services), the motivations of, and risks taken by, the two groups are quite different. By discussing the differences, as well as the surprising similarities, between the two practices, I will expand the discussion on privilege and embodiment in UrbEx in the hope that engaging with the practices of 'other' explorers will help us rethink UrbEx as practiced in the cities of the global North.

Pooya Ghoddousi

Global Nomads or Temporary Citizens: Transnational mobility of middling Iranians