Re-appropriating the city of fear

Fiona Jeffries
New York, September 26th 2009, 13:30 - 14:00

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Fear is seen to be one of the defining political emotions of late modernity. Filmmakers, sociologists, artists, philosophers and pundits see fear everywhere. If fear has become a way of life, the contemporary city is seen by many to be one of its most prominent and productive social laboratories. But while fear is seen to be so politically significant, the way it is studied often both naturalizes and exteriorizes fear from politics. As a result, fear's more complex and antagonistic status as both a social relation and an arena of political action is submerged. In this talk, I raise the productive role of social struggle and propose a different approach to thinking about, and acting in, the city of fear. By taking social struggles as our starting point, the city of fear becomes recognizable as a platform for social action, a place for the elaboration of a theory and practice of social change, a staging ground for the re-appropriation of the city.