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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008
    The right to the city and an untidy melange
     
    I'm at St Deiniol's just tidying up my first 5,000 words of MPhil work, a history and critique of situationism and psychogeography, and I just had to include this excellent quote from Will Self's Psychogeography:
    Nick Papadimitriou points out that most of the psychogeographic fraternity (and, dispiritingly, we are a fraternity: middle-aged men in Gore-Tex, armed with notebooks and cameras, stamping our boots on suburban station platforms, politely requesting the operators of tea kiosks in mossy parks to fill our thermoses, querying the destinations of rural buses. Our prostates swell as we crunch over broken glass, behind the defunct brewery on the outskirts of town) are really only local historians with an attitude problem. Indeed, real, professional local historians view us as insufferably bogus and travelling - if anywhere at all - right up ourselves.
    I hope my conclusion doesn't support this criticism... it's prompted by an excellent article in New Left Review 53 by the radical geographer David Harvey...
    The social theorist David Harvey recently proposed that in this ‘era when ideals of human rights have moved centre stage both politically and ethically’ we each have a right to the city: 'The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.' Harvey is writing of the need to democratise the means by which our global cities are shaped. I suggest that whilst psychogeography is an imperfect political project, a maverick art form and an untidy melange of practices, nevertheless it has a valid and potentially influential contribution to make to the processes through which cities may be positively changed.
    Well, I would say that, wouldn't I?