Keynotes

Andy Merrifield

‘The Shadow Citizenry and the Right to the City’

In 1989, Henri Lefebvre said the right to the city is nothing more than a “revolutionary conception of citizenship.” He implied revolutionary citizenship is not really a right at all: it has to be taken not given, struggled for not rubber-stamped. Today’s revolutionary citizens are citizens without rights, disenfranchised urban citizens the world over, shadow citizens, we might call them, carriers of shadow passports. Shadow passports express an urban citizenship waiting in the wings, a solidarity haunting the mainstream, floating through frontiers, across designated checkpoints. For shadow passports holders, homeland securities and border control agencies know nothing about true identities; official maps rarely tell where to go: they’re useless in helping us find ourselves, in helping us discover one another. This talk will put a fresh spin on Lefebvre’s right to the city thesis and on the possibilities for participatory democracy.

 

Heather R. White

‘The Right to Space: Ecclesial Spaces and Gay Politics in New York, 1969-1975’

This lecture examines the surprising relationships among New York gay activists and liberal Protestant churches during the tumultuous years of the late 1960s and early 1970s. A number of urban congregations provided space to the growing gay movement, and I examine gay activists’ use of physical facilities supplied by Christian churches–institutions that those same activists often criticized as sexuality repressive. However, the church involvement came at an important movement—as gay activists worked to challenge the social and spatial hegemony of New York’s heavily policed gay bars but before the newer organizations had enough resources to buy or lease their own space. During this transitional time, churches hosted dances, public meetings, and other key events, thus facilitating the formation of a new kind of queer public space in which movement participants could claim and enact “out and proud” identities.

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