A Progressive Sense of Place and the Open City: micro-spatialities and micro-conflicts on a north London council estate

Pile, Steve; Yazici, Edanur; Cramer-Greenbaum, Susannah; Keith, Michael; Murji, Karim and Solomos, John (2023). A Progressive Sense of Place and the Open City: micro-spatialities and micro-conflicts on a north London council estate. Geoforum, 144, article no. 103810.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2023.103810

Abstract

Doreen Massey’s progressive sense of place (2005) and Richard Sennett’s ethical case for the open city (2018) rely on seeing space as open. It is openness that guarantees an open future, an openness to others, and the possibility of a progressive politics. Curiously, the Garden City, for both, becomes a test case for a progressive sense of the open city. For Massey, her lived experience of growing up in Wythenshawe reveals both the possibility of, and also the undermining of, the possibility of creating a progressive sense of place. In contrast, Sennett sees the Garden City, for all its progressive elements, as ultimately blocking new ways of dwelling in the city. The Garden City, for him, is too closed to provide a progressive sense of place. In north London, we discover a hidden Garden City, with secret gardens. Its micro-spatialities – and its micro-conflicts – enable us to rethink both these accounts of a progressive sense of place and of the open city. Rather than seeing openness in a physical infrastructure of space and place, we wish to emphasize the openness and closedness that emerges from the ways the people encounter, manage and dispute the microspatialities of everyday life on the estate.

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