Curator and Designer

Coming from Tel Aviv, conflict, violence and protest, are not foreign to me. My previous work focus on the way violence influence the development of Tel Aviv City in the 90s. Through this research, and the analysis of the Prime Minister Rabin in the Peace Rally in 1995, in Rabin Square, I have become more and more interested in the phenomena of protests. A phenomenon that I see, whether large or small scale, as a mean of communication between citizens and regimes... view all

Tali Hatuka
MIT, February 2008

Tali Hatuka (B.Arch, M.Sc, D.Sc) is an Architect and Urban Designer. Hatuka works primarily on social, planning and architectural issues and on the relationships between urban form, violence, everyday life and modern society. Her awards for research include the European Community Marie Curie Fellowship (2005-2008) and a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship (2004-2005). She is co-editor of Architectural Culture: Place, Representation, Body (2005 [Hebrew]) and her book, entitled Revisionist Moments: Violent Acts and Urban Space in Contemporary Tel Aviv, is forthcoming. Her work also has been published in a wide range of journals including the Journal of Urban Design International, Journal of Architecture, Journal of Architecture and Planning Research, Journal of Architectural Education and Planning Perspectives. Currently she is writing a book entitled Urban Design and Civil Protests: A Contemporary Mediation as part of a large urban sociology project funded by the European Community.

Coming from Tel Aviv, conflict, violence and protest, are not foreign to me. My previous work focus on the way violence influence the development of Tel Aviv City in the 90s. Through this research, and the analysis of the Prime Minister Rabin in the Peace Rally in 1995, in Rabin Square, I have become more and more interested in the phenomena of protests. A phenomenon that I see, whether large or small scale, as a mean of communication between citizens and regimes. I was also curious to understand the way different cultures, whether democratic or not, perform and organized these protest or as I named them spatial dialogues. Thus, over the last 3 years I was fortunate to travel worldwide and meet different people and visit different places, trying to figure out the phenomena that we all name as “protest” or ”demonstration”. In particular I was curious regarding the use of space, the planning of the protest and the role of urbanity in these events.

Intuitively, for most people protest, is socio-spatial phenomena of grievance, where people either hold banners, sometimes march and hear speeches. However, the terminology of protest and concepts of space mean different things in different culture. If we start to examine protests as socio-spatial rituals in Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, we will find out they are not the same. Culture, resources, laws, plays a key role in these events. But with all the differences, one could also find similarities between the different events in particular when looking at the process of planning and thinking about the use of space during protests.

Trying to figure out process of planning of a protest meant moving from one city to another interviewing different activists, some who are still emotionally “living’ a moment that happened 20 years ago. Still surprisingly, their passion and emotions did not detract them from explaining and detailing the process and reasoning of the spatial array of the protests. I must say I was surprised to hear from most of the activists, in Istanbul, London, Buenos Aries etc, their pragmatic approach taken in the process of planning the event. For most of them, symbolism had an added value, and being taken into consideration, but it is often not the generator of the event form. The generator was space, it availability, surveillance, scale, and so forth. Factors, which are crucial when trying to figure out the form of the contemporary protests and in mega international scale protests, such as the one taken place in Feb 15 2003 against the Iraq war. So, beyond the moving political narratives of activists, most of them helped me to grasp how protest are well crafted event, taking place in the physical space, organized today by using cyber space, aiming to produce images of contentions. Thus, I would add that cyber space did not detract from the actual happening of protest in the city but on the contrary it helps in making them enhanced.

Above all, my aim initiating this project was to understand the way practices of citizenship are manifested in different cultures all over the world, and how those practices influence influenced by the design of civic space. In that sense I see the event of protest as a moment of correlation, between the imagination of space and imagination of people aiming for change, and if successful creating a shift in the social imagination as a whole. By accentuating the connection between protest and urban space, I would like to stress the importance of urban designers and architects as active agents in defining the arena in which negotiations between states and citizens take place. This approach implies engaging with the process of production of space beyond the architectural or urban design discourse about the object or environment per se. This critical mode aims not only at understanding the world, but also at a simultaneous transformation of that world “beyond” theory.

Finally, this micro presentation of protests in different locations all over the world looks at space as a continual, reinvention of the social, through grasping its present and temporal meanings. Space here is a resource in which people communicate their citizenships; a form of communication, which is more and more apparent with the increased democratization and global urbanization of the 20th century.