chapter  1
28 Pages

POLITICS OF SPACE

Entering into the worlds of public education in Los Angeles after many years’ absence, I navigated the spaces as a stranger. Often I did not know where to enter, what the protocols were for passing security desks and gaining clearance, where my informants or interviewees were located, or how others would respond to my intruding presence. This outsider vantage point made for frequent uneasiness on my part, but it rendered these sites productively strange to me, for as a body negotiating terrain for the first time, I was acutely aware of symbolic ambiguities, sonic and visual disruptions, and physical obstacles to movement. At each of the dozen schools I visited, from elementary to middle to high schools, I interviewed technology coordinators and had them walk and talk me through (or around) their many technological infrastructures in progress: server

rooms, trenches, repair areas, classrooms, computer labs, phone rooms, libraries. Throughout these tours, coordinators would comment on the archaeology of networks in those particular schools, short-and long-term goals, administrative and/or teacher opposition, construction mishaps, contractor disappearance, and, without exception, the politics of the Los Angeles Unified School District. I would take pictures of rooms, watch people interact and bodies flow through spaces, and talk with students, teachers, and administrators. The recurring referent was that of flux, of new socio-spatial orders merging with older ones and of people’s contributions and responses to these alterations.