Power Resistance

  • Created by: maya
  • Created on: 30-05-17 17:17

Power and resistance

…as part of practicing identities


Some theory that will (hopefully!) help for whole of your degree…..
may come up in future of my degree

AND… An introduction to Participatory Action Research – a very practical way in which Geographers are currently addressing issues of exclusion, power and resistance in their work

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Key Concerns

Key concerns…

How do POWER & IDENTITY come together?

power wrapped up in some way.. how power linked to identity

How can forms of RESISTANCE emerge out of the very power relations that create SOCIAL, ECONOMIC & POLITICAL EXCLUSION?

socially inclusive direction.. change that

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Why power and resistance?

Questions of identification and difference necessarily entail issues of power and resistance.
incredibly topical issue

Inequalities and forms of social exclusion are maintained by uneven power relations and social injustices associated with contemporary forms of domination, oppression and exploitation

e.g. capitalism, sexism, racism, imperialism and heterosexism

Identity politics are manifesting in particular groups being singled out- Muslims

= all are prevailing sources of power

Combo of different facets of identity, race, gender, hobbies.. normally not a problem.. when it comes together with a power who want to mark out another group.. can be dangerous.. oppression and exclusion.. racism. Gender inequalities

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Places emphasis on the way individuals and groups find ways of reworking their situations in the face of power and oppression from these and other sources

resistence how they challenge their own position and make themselves different

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Michel Foucault on power

He wrote a lot about power.. inspired geographers on this topic

History of forms of punishment of criminals
diff ways criminals been punished throughout history

Move from physical torture and public spectacle to

in the past.. some means of public humiliation more barbaric forms.. public exclusion.. death deviant physical torture and spectacle

Surveillance (both by others and internally by self) – especially in the context of institutions (prisons, schools, hospitals, etc.)

in modern society power operates differently, UK .. power still v prevelent in society exists but exercised in subtle way. about surveillence.. how power operates in institutions, schools, hospitals, prisons

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Bentham’s Panopticon prison 1843: surveillance

"incorporates a tower central to an annular building that is divided into cells, each cell extending the entire thickness of the building to allow inner and outer windows. The occupants of the cells . . . are thus backlit, isolated from one another by walls, and subject to scrutiny both collectively and individually by an observer in the tower who remains unseen”.

can look into whoevers cell they wanted... but prisoners couldnt tell

made prisoners discipline themselves.. always being watched. power can operate through surveilence get people to discipline themselves

The Panopticon thus allows seeing without being seen.

 'Such asymmetry of seeing-without-being-seen is, in fact, the very essence of power for Foucault because ultimately, the power to dominate rests on the differential possession of knowledge'"("Subject" 223).

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What does this tell us about power?

For Foucault, power was: power produced through relationships.. exercise power relations everyday
-Not something possessed by particular people or institutions but, instead… -

Produced by people’s interactions (everyone is both subject to power but also exercises it themselves) -Everyone embodies and expresses power – it is a quality which flows between people and organises social relations - surveillence how people can exercise power over themselves, register records who attends lectures

 - Because it explains how people themselves can come to subjugate (exercise power over) themselves, through self discipline

- Power is not external to a person but something they can do to themselves through surveillance


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(Power- Knowledge 1972-1977)

“There is no need for arms, physical violence, material constraints. Just a gaze.

An inspecting gaze, a gaze which each individual under its weight will end by interiorising to the point that he is his own overseer, each individual thus exercising this surveillance over, and against himself”

(Power- Knowledge 1972-1977)

if you can get people to discipline themselves more efficient way of running an instituion or country

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e.g. Docile Bodies – cultural ideas of beauty and

Bodies that undertake surveillance of themselves

eating disorders way people can be made to exert power over themselves .. cultural norm what beauty is

Such surveillance described in terms of ‘disciplinary technologies

The control of activity of bodies

e.g. feminist studies of eating disorders

(Susan BordoUnbearable Weight)

The important point is that these regimes (prisons/dieting) are not just about domination – the person learns how to do these tasks and wants to do them

you doing these things to yourself...

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It is women themselves who practice this discipline on and against their own bodies… the woman who checks her make-up half a dozen times a day to see if her foundation has caked or her mascara run, who worries that the wind or rain may spoil her hairdo, who looks frequently to see if her stockings have bagged at the ankle, or who, feeling fat, monitors everything she eats, has become, just as surely as the inmate in the Panopticon, a self-policing subject, a self committed to relentless self-surveillance. This self-surveillance is a form of obedience to patriarchy”

  (Bartky 1990: 80). 

women discipline themselves over idea of beauty to pelase men

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How can this understanding of power help us think about – and create new possibilities for - resistance?

‘There are no relations of power without resistances; the latter are all the more real and effective because they are formed right at the point where relations of power are exercised'

(Foucault 1980: 142)

i.e. Resistance relies upon and grows out of the situation against which it struggles – a new site for action?

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Power can be productive – gives rise to new forms of behavior rather than simply closing down or censoring certain forms of behavior. So there are possibilities for change…

within oppression poweer to change

Power is performed more than achieved, is more like a strategy than a possession – power should be seen as a verb rather than a noun, something that does something, rather than something which is or which can be held onto So performing an activity or identity differently can challenge and change power relationships - power is something you exercise through interactions.. something you do rather than something you are

Ideas of self discipline show us that individuals are not the recipients of power, but the ‘place’ where power is enacted and resisted. So our relationships and everyday practices are revealed as opportunities to change power relationships – there is more to power than overthrowing dictators or regimes! 

implications our relationships and everyday practices.. these are ways in which we can all change power relationships. how do we challenge power/marginalisation?

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Resistance – anti-Racism

e.g. subtle example – through art performance

Remember from previous lecture – Adrian Piper – her work deals with ostracism, otherness, racist thought

Wants to help people confront their racist views

Piper, a light-skinned African-American woman, had these cards printed to offer to individuals who made assumptions about her identity. One was given to individuals who, assuming she was white, did not hesitate to make racist remarks about Blacks in her presence. The other card was to be given to individuals who assumed that she was sexually available because she was unaccompanied

calling card given to people who made racist remarks in her presence.. through these performances she was able to challenge and change ideas around race in society

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Resistance anti-heterosexism

LGBT Social Movements – fighting for social equality for LGBT people
challenge heteronormativity

Lobbying, protests, viral, art, performance

And remember Judith Butler on Transgender performance…

Think about in relation to Sochi Olympic Games, Russia – Gay Rights Protests target Olympic Games


drag is a performance way of doing identity differently


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Participatory Geographies research group

Now for something more practical…

introducing participatory action research

Traditional research; 

We generally think of ourselves as researchers doing research on something: much like a scientist dispassionately examines interesting things in a petri dish

participatory research challenges traditional research

objective scientist 

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Spatialising spatial spatialites of geographical s

Do geographers focus on abstract issues of concern to the academy, but of little relevance to dealing with real world issues?

“we would argue that many, if not most ‘geographers’ are focused neither on achieving political change or communicating with the world ‘out there’.” (Dorling and Shaw 2002).

O geographers can engage in closed, often wilfully over obtuse language games, which “can safely be ignored while the grown ups get on with the business of changing the world, often for the worst.” (Hamnett 2003).

- academia has become selfish closed off nasal gazing .. not trying to do broader good

- not changing the world

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a growing feeling that geographic research should have benefits for those affected by the social, economic and environmental issues which are at its heart;

Participatory Geographers.. should have real world relevance, engage outside academy, people outside academy have meaningful knowledge.. should learn from them..should be a dialogue

O the belief that groups outside the academy have meaningful contributions to make to setting agendas, project design, analysis, interpretation and writing outputs of geographical research;

disillusionment with the ability of many mainstream quantitative or qualitative approaches and their sets of ethical principles to effect this, or to contribute to significant change,;

discontent with the increasingly elitist and exclusionary nature of higher education, including the REF, which privilege forms of research which are highly theoretical (but note impact agenda).
- research only written in specialist journals



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Partresearch Reacting against research that is:

Un-inclusive Unethical
Over quantitative
Abstract to the extent that it bears no relation to the real world

traditional research is extractive.. questionnaires, surveys.. analyse it by themselves.. write up in a journal.. dont go back to people concerned, used for your own benefit not given anything back

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Methodology is:

Honesty and transparency

Reflexivity – questions of engagement, group discussion emotion, power and control.

The non verbal, and the emotional

Rigour & Validity – polemic & politics

Appropriate, inclusive, listening, feeding back

•“Walking together, asking questions”

•New Epistemologies?

In contrast.. fracking topic of huge public concern  -meet communities.. researcher want to help them, design research questions together with community.. direct research ways that are reflective of their concerns - analysis two way

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Participatory Methods

Ethnographic Engagement

Problem based action research

Stakeholder engagement

Co-production Participatory Diagramming

Role-play Participatory Video

Observant Participation & Auto-ethnography

Participation and reflexivity in ALL stages of the research process

working with communities at all stages not just method

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Participatory techniques

World cafes

Silent seminars

O Future search

O Mapping - mental maps.. areas you use.. children

O Drawing - drawing with children.. photography - in particular, workshops & storyboards

O Spider diagrams

O Stickers/posters

O Keynote listeners

O Plays

O Videos and radio

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Non verbal methods

for example  OWhittle, Rebecca and Walker, Marion and Medd, William (2011) Suitcases, storyboards and Newsround: exploring impact and dissemination in Hull. Area, 43 (4). pp. 477-487. ISSN 0004-0894

doing research in a way that is in conversation with them 

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Society demarcates people who share particular identifications

Identity not created necessarily by biological essence but is socially constructed (language, norms, laws etc) and is relational

-specific to particular times and  places

 Identity created & experienced through relations of self and other

i.e. Sameness is produced out of difference

Identity can be experienced and expressed in performative ways

Geographers can engage with issues of power and resistance through participatory action research

-  something you do identity something we all do ona daily basis either challenging or reinforcing this diff theories about power- power can be productive not negative. research with communities not on them

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remember: a tension here?

We’ve seen that ‘strong’ identities conferred on others (in racist, sexist ways) draw upon ESSENTIALISED categories of identity (e.g. body parts, skin colour, sexual preferences)

BUT we’ve also seen that acts of subversion & activism (as sites of resistance) also require elements of ‘strong’ identity – (e.g. Gay Pride, Indigenous land rights) census- help them

What is interesting here is a tension between the pros and cons of strong identity categories.

So be aware that the focus by social scientists on identities as RELATIONAL sometimes doesn’t focus enough upon this tension – i.e. there is a political danger – that too much focus upon relationality may remove the potential for change encapsulated by very clear marked differences.

explored how identities can be discriminated against.. racism-> claming strong identity for yourself ethnic nationalism - particular identity represents you more -> recognising pros and cons of ideas of strong identity. 
identity fictional.. created.. dangerous can merge into we're all the same.. no issue
- see how identity being used in diff times and places

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(Philo 2000)

Exclusion key concept for social Geographers 
'A situation in which certain members of society are or become, separated from much that comprises the normal way of living and working within that society.'

Chris Philo argues:
exclusion should be thought of...
simultaneously social and spatial 
Wxcluded individuals tend to slip outsit or even become unwelcome visitors within those spaces which come to be regarded as the loci of mainstream social life (e.g. middle class suburbs, upmarket shopping malls, or prime public space) 

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Cloke et al exclusion definition and characteristi

Exclusion simultaneously material and symbolic - two mutually reinforcing each other

In symbolic form closelty related to concept of stigma with stigmatized groups exp exclusion

exclusion active process- referring deliberate distancing of an individual/group by and from another individual/group. 

processes of exclusion never absolute and will always to some extent be resisted

space is an expression of and a means by which excusionary practices gain purchase and meaning.

 prisons built keeping people a safe distance away from 'decent society'
why Dartmoor in the UK is a considerable distance away from centres of population. 
use of space separating good from bad continues within prisons themselves- solitary confinement. 

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Exclusion and space (Cloke et al)


western identities are structured by an innate need to differentiate between self and other.

To avoid contamination of the Self by the Other, people strive to establish clear and unambiguous boundaries between the two. These boundaries often take physical form.

Spatial boundaries therefore play an important role in maintaining social boundaries.

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Exclusion and space (Cloke et al)


western identities are structured by an innate need to differentiate between self and other.

To avoid contamination of the Self by the Other, people strive to establish clear and unambiguous boundaries between the two. These boundaries often take physical form.

Spatial boundaries therefore play an important role in maintaining social boundaries.

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Life at the margins Cloke et al 2014

Stigma by spatial association may occur where those who live or work in 'dirty' environments may themselves gradually be viewed as dirty and treated accordingly. 

Philo (2000) study of tin miners SE England  - exclusions tinners faced due to associations drawn between them and the harsh & unusual environment they worked in.

Dartmoor distant from surrounding towns and cities- thus tinners Dartmoor lived relativelt isolated life. cut off for long periods of time from familt and rest of family.

Geographical isolated encouraged perception of tinners- socially remote.

Differing views:
Close to nature- tinners worked in natural environment, enjoying a lifestyle to be envied
Nature-culture binary- wildness- obv distance between tinners lives and moral order of society

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Life at the margins Cloke et al 2014

Stigma by spatial association may occur where those who live or work in 'dirty' environments may themselves gradually be viewed as dirty and treated accordingly. 

Philo (2000) study of tin miners SE England  - exclusions tinners faced due to associations drawn between them and the harsh & unusual environment they worked in.

Dartmoor distant from surrounding towns and cities- thus tinners Dartmoor lived relativelt isolated life. cut off for long periods of time from familt and rest of family.

Geographical isolated encouraged perception of tinners- socially remote.

Differing views:
Close to nature- tinners worked in natural environment, enjoying a lifestyle to be envied
Nature-culture binary- wildness- obv distance between tinners lives and moral order of society

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Good and bad Tinners

While the isolation of the mining settlement was a major factor in the stigma thaat came to be attached to tin mining

IT ALSO provided mine workers with certain freedoms not enjoyed elsewhere
1) tinners able to exert considerable control ocr their pay and working conditions 'Stannary Law'

miners stood beyond reach of Common Law- tried in specialist 'stannary courts' instead- in front of a jury made up entirely of local tinners.

shows that processes of exclusion offer those cast as 'outsiders' chance to exercise certain autonomy over their lives.

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Exclusion Summary (Cloke et al 2014)

one of most powerful sources 'Objection' is fear of bodily residues. As a result, indivduals may also come to be viewed as 'dirt' or '****'

Those living in dirty environments may also come to be viewed as 'dirty' via a process of stigma- spatial association.

 such groups may also start to inhabit marginal spaces and places- because pushed there or due to seeking reprieve from confrontation and abuse.

Processes of socio-spatial exclusion rarely go unchallenged.

Marginal spaces may provide marginalised groups with a certain autonomy over their lives.

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Contemporary geographies of exclusion

most obiously excluded groups in contemporary societies is people who are homeless. 

Takashi 1996 - four main reasons homeless people stigmatised
1) homeless people viewed as unproductive
2)  apparently lost contact with family and friends- homeless people perceived as 'disaffiliated' existing outside the comforts and constraits of mainstream society.
3) By own habits or stereotyping - homeless people become synonymous with other stigmatised groups- drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill.
4)  life on the streets - few opportunities- keep clean or use toilet - sense of difference that homeless people convey & apparent threat is heightened by fears of pollution. 

Degree of stigma related to homeless people differs according to the extent to which a person is understood as responsible for their situation. e.g. child considerable more sympathy than man
Western welfare systems distinction between 'deserving' & 'undeserving' homeless
homeless family get some support
care and accommodation single homeless people - voluntarty/charitable sector. 

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Defensive architecture

  • Emergence new forms of architecture designed to safeguard prime public spaces from the incursion of 'undesirables' 
  • removal of public toilets
  • installation sprinkler systems
  • 'bum proof' benches- armrests
  • homeless peope USA pushed out of prime city area into 'skid row' districts
  • National Coalition for the Homeless regularly publishing lists of 'America's 10 meanest streets'

Homeless people highly stigmatised
Over past 20 years this stigma translated into growing attempts to exclude street homeless people from central & business districts of many cities across USA and UK.
Means of such exclusion many and varied, including new legislation & architectural designs, which together are pushing homeless people in to more marginal parts of the city.
Such practices not universal/absolute continue to be resisted by homeless people & others

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Inclusion/Exclusion Cloke et al 2014


  • Day centres offer a space of respite and material resource to homeless people
  • Within day centres, staff work to produce a more inclusive space of 'unusual' norms and 'license' in which bodily dispositions and behaviours considered 'out of place' are accepted as the norm.
  • Not all people equally included in day centres, with divisions & exclusions evident across multiple axes.
  • Day centres reveal processes of inclusion & exclusion are interconnected- subject to conflict and negotiation 

Most day centres male-dominated spaces - 74% male
many homeless women try t avoid them or attempt to keep low profile- more difficult for suh women to catch attention - staff & access support they need.

Most homeless shelters recognise in order to provide an inclusive environment to as many as possible some exclusionary practices needed. whether ban on drugs/alcohols or barring individuals who are violent towards staff- even if these practices exclude some of their most vulnerable clients 

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Outsiders in space and society

the boundaries of society are continually redrawn to distinguishbetween those who belong and those who because of some perceived cultural difference are deemed to be out of place.

people who are defined as 'other' or residual - commonly represented as less human
Don't homeless people have needs to? 

Indigenous minorities Inuit portrayed as 'at one with nature' as part of natural world rather than civilisation.

such associations effectively put the group outside society

difference is viewed as deviance because it is set against some notion of 'norma' 

it is state agencies who have the power to affect the lives of minority groups 

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Gypsy culture

Visible features of modern Gypsy culture, such as modern trailers parked on waste ground in cities surrounding by piles of scrap-metal and wrecked cars do not fit the romatic stereotype, so the people observed as less real.

The 'real' gypsy seen as belonging in the past and usually in rural surroundings, part of cosy image of rural life whereas the people camped on waste ground are perceived as violating urban space, the world of the majority population.

Gypsy beliefs about social organisation, work and cleaniness which make their use of land understandable are viewed negatively - because- do not correspond to notions of social and spatial order whih prevail in larger society.

Their behaviour viewed as 'anti-social' rather than reflecting an alternative conception of social order..

The media, particularly local press continue to represent gypsies as deviant group.

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Landscapes of exclusion

Marginal, residual spaces where groups like Gypsies are associated with, confirm the outsider status of the minority.

may be places avoided by dominant members of society- a fear of the 'other' becomes fear of place.

Spatial structures can strenghten or weaken social boundaries, accentuating division or rendering excluded group less visible. Some spatial configurations easier to control than others. 

Gypsies in Hull
Attitutes to Gypsies in developed world suggest that the minority constitue a threat to social order. Britain- land use planning system reflects widely accepted notions of spatial order and amenity, unregulated Gypsy settlements settltements constitue deviant landscapes.

Residents interviewed local press made adverse comments about the Gypsies lifestyle 'they smell, they have rats; they make a noise. 

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