THE SPATIAL CHOREOGRAPHY OF PROTEST

Spatial choreography of protest is an intricate juxtaposition between people – through voice and appropriation of space -- and space itself.

The concept of spatial choreography is offered here to reveal how space and people interact during protests, exposing the way in which the design of protests helps participants achieve their goals. This design is designated by boundaries, location, scale, form, symbols, use of voice, and social norms -- all of which contribute to the protest’s spatial order.

The protest takes place within physical space that represents the civic identity of that society. Some of these characteristics are temporarily modified by barriers, blocked routes, and adjusted traffic rules to control the crowd’s movement. In addition, police attempt to maintain control through different types of surveillance, such as cameras and secret agents in a crowd, to remain alert to any forms of violence that might occur.

The protest’s ritual performance components (i.e. marching, gathering, singing, etc), clothing, and schedule (i.e. timing and length of the event) reveal the way participants see themselves, either as supporters of, or protesters against, the social order. Thus, this spatial choreography has a dual role: it is a mechanism for constructing meaning and interpreting social reality, and a device for negotiation between the state and the citizen.