Originally posted on Party of the Uncertain:
“Urban territory becomes the battlefield of continuous space war, sometimes erupting into the public spectacle of inner-city riots, ritual skirmishes with the police, the occasional forays of soccer crowds, but waged daily just beneath the surface of the public (publicized), official version of the routine urban order. Disempowered and disregarded residents of the ‘fenced-off’, pressed-back and relentlessly encroached-upon areas, respond with aggressive action of their own; they try to install on the borders of their ghettoized home ground ‘no-trespassing’ signs of their own making. Following the eternal custom of bricoleurs they use for the purpose any material they can lay their hands on–’rituals, dressing strangely, striking bizarre attitudes, breaking rules, breaking bottles, windows, heads, issuing rhetorically challenges to the law’.”
-Zygmunt Bauman, Globalization: The Human Consequences, 22.
Inhabiting or simply occupying a space will come with marking off and asserting that space. The space wars in the urban centers to which Bauman refers are not just a matter of displacing persons from homes or increased rent (even though these are not trivial matters). It’s also a matter of establishing territories–of defining and asserting spaces through various “markers.” Gentrified areas assert themselves with increased security, no loitering signs, high-end stores, and few public spaces devoid of commercial influence–territorial marks backed by law and capital. However, among those displaced and gathered together in neglected areas, counter-territories are defined and asserted by other markers–such as graffiti, shoes around telephone wire, and spaces to “hang out” (e.g. street corners, front porches). A territory is an assertion of power and also produces–along its fringe, in overlooked zones, or within itself–counter-territories.