Pissing On the Past: The Highland Clearances, Effigial Resistance and the Everyday Politics of the Urinal

Saunders, Robert A. and Crilley, Rhys (2019). Pissing On the Past: The Highland Clearances, Effigial Resistance and the Everyday Politics of the Urinal. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 47(3) pp. 444–469.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0305829819840422

Abstract

When and where one can urinate is increasingly politicised around the globe. As an example of bio-political power, the provision, regulation and access to public toilets reflects larger structures in any given society. However, there is another side to micturition, that is the use of urine as a manifestation of bodily power over another/others. This article analyses the politics of the urinal through a close reading of the men’s toilet in The Lismore pub in Partick, Scotland, thus bringing together these two threads via the concept of everyday effigial resistance. In our interrogation of a politicised urinal that asks users to ‘piss’ on historical figures associated with the Highland Clearances, we aim to push International Relations to follow Enloe’s call for the study of ‘mundane practices… and the most intimate spaces’ by considering the most banal aspects of the human condition as part of its remit. Our case study serves as an explicit political intervention, one which through its geographic and geopolitical scales makes an argument for engaging with the mundane, vernacular and vulgar in everyday IR.

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