Accepted paper:

Rustaveli Boulevard: spatial organization and emotional landscapes


Madlen Pilz (Leibniz-Institute for Regional Geography)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is about the events in 2009, when people occupied the central space of political representation in Georgia's capital. Their aim was to negotiate the perception of democratic values/"good life". My focus will be on the bodily appropriation of space and performance of occupation.

Paper long abstract:

Location: South Caucaus, Georgia, Tbilisi, Rustaveli Boulevard. Since the first half of the 19th century the "Rustaveli" has been representing dominant (colonial) political and cultural power, first the Russian then the Soviet power. Even today the "people's boulevard" with the parliament building remains the main parade-route for political celebrations/representations on national holidays. New is its connotation as a national space of commemoration of Georgia's Independence. In April 2009 the boulevard was transformed into a zone of protest for the 4th time in the last 20 years. The occupation of the space, which, following de Certeau, "played" with a temporal recoding of the space of "the Others" by building up an improvised "City of Cells" with its own infrastructure on the boulevard, lasted for 3 months. This provoked a reorganization of the city's space and life - original infrastructure, every day routines collapsed. It turned into a space of controversial negotiation about how past and future are perceived by different actors and how certain democratic values and "good life" are defined. The spatial occupation and redefinition, an outburst of peoples dissatisfaction with the actual political and economic living conditions, I will conceptualize here as a Social Drama in structure and content. I will focus on the construction and perception of space and the appropriation and movement of bodies in this space, competing with the meaning inscribed by the surrounding architecture.

panel P224
Performing creativity and creating performances: dialogues and tensions on experiencing culture and making places