chapter  1
32 Pages

Negotiating Space/Negotiating Self

This chapter investigates how history, the law, and class structures are embedded in the physical

environment and the ways they affect our social life. It is public space which bears witness to

and reveals the marks of history, allowing articulations of the self to be created. In the abstract,

space is the demarcation of a bound area or place. However, spaces are not natural; they are

socially made and are products of political and capital values. Simple as it may seem, the

demarcating line that creates spaces of difference-in and out, here and there-is essentially

what formulates identity with the exclusionary definition of an “us” and “them,” turning space

into a social and political issue. Students will understand how to interpret social spaces as

vestiges of our ideas of humanity, political values, and notions of rights. How are spaces of

difference created and how does authority affect how we move through social spaces? Whose

needs are expressed or represented in public and private spaces? Does public space serve our

collective human needs? What are major forces that influence the development of space and

how much of those forces are for capitalist productions? Finally, students will understand the

relationship that democracy has to public space and will debate the central question of public

space-whether it is a universal place free from politics or if it is the very sphere of politics.