Makeshift urban accessibility: the urban cosmopolitics of 'functional diversity' struggles in post-indignados Spain
(Humboldt University of Berlin)
Paper short abstract:
An ethnographic exploration of makeshift urban accessibility interventions-inclusive assembly methods, debates to discuss the everyday experiences of exclusion, processes of low-cost gadget design, and documentation interfaces to share them-in Spain as a form of urban cosmopolitics.
Paper long abstract:
Probably one of most interesting effects of the Spanish indignados protests and public space occupations were the many new connections amongst different frail forms of activism around bodily diversity that until then had operated in a segregated manner. In this presentation I would like to show the makeshift urban accessibility interventions-inclusive assembly methods, debates to discuss the everyday experiences of exclusion, processes of collaborative low-cost and open design gadgets, and documentation interfaces to share them-crafted in and thanks to the alliances forged in the 'commissions of functional diversity' that sprung in those protests in Madrid and Barcelona. 'Functional diversity', originally a self-representational term used by independent-living activists to substitute discourses around 'dis/ability', has since then expanded into broader fights for bodily and sexual diversity, and urban accessibility. Particular attention will be paid to characterise this particular kind of makeshiftness and its impact on urban accessibility's legal activism-using a language of rights-, and its fight for state/market universally-designed inclusive standards. Using different examples from my ethnographic engagement in the last years in these movements, rather than merely focusing on their low-quality or fragility, I would like to characterise these interstitial practices as entailing a particularly powerful kind of 'urban cosmopolitics' (Blok & Farías, 2016): these 'evental' articulations of frail and disparate bodily diversities involving uncertain and recursive explorations of the conceptual and material arrangements needed to have access to each others' bodily experiences in a search for a common world beyond state-market urban assemblages.
The everyday makeshifts of life at the urban margins