Accepted paper:

Public writing, utopia and resistance in a new urban geography: examples from Gezi park


Giustina Selvelli (University Ca' Foscari of Venezia)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I will consider examples of urban public writing appeared during the Gezi Park of Istanbul in 2013 as a form of expression allowing the creation and circulation of utopian messages of resistance and the inclusion of a multiplicity of identities in the protest arena.

Paper long abstract:

My paper aims at illustrating patterns of spatial and linguistic reappropriation and resignification in the context of the Gezi park protests that took place in Istanbul during May and June 2013, focusing on some examples of urban public writing (graffiti as well as other forms) associated with expression of utopia and resistance. I will argue that these public writings become part of a strategy of resistance as they "manipulate" and re-adapt the language in order to express messages that go beyond ordinary and superficial ones, in line with utopian ideals of change. Such written expressions contribute in creating further levels of idealistic signification by showing peculiar irony and criticism and are used as a crucial tool for the emerging of a multiplicity of identitites, among which some "marginal" ones such as the Kurdish, the Armenian, and the LGBT community's one. It is remarkable that the utopian atmosphere of the park involves specific changes in temporal as well as spatial perception that are made possible also by virtue of the public writing's creative force; Taksim square and Gezi Park are not the same place as before and there is the need of creating (and calling) meaningful points of reference in collective consciousness: street names, first-aid centers, "border check points" and barricades. These all represent the coordinates of a liberated, utopian area of action and change.

panel Urba003
Ethnographies of urban public spaces