Un-real Estate: Proprietary Space and Public Gardening
Author: Blomley, Nicholas
Source: Antipode, Volume 36, Number 4, September 2004 , pp. 614-641(28)
Abstract:Many contemporary neo-liberal urban programs are enacted in order to protect private property, structured according to a logic of property, or designed to extend the workings of private property to public domains. My focus is on the latter, especially in relation to the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Here, residents are encouraged to act in a proprietary way toward public space in order to expel anti-social forms of behaviour. Drawing on Oscar Newman's analysis of “defensible space”, I document the link between CPTED and certain characterizations of property—that property is largely synonymous with private property, that it is communicated to others through clear acts, such as gardening, and that it is, or should be certain and clear. These principles, I note, echo hegemonic accounts of property. Perhaps for this reason, defensible space principles remain important to neo-liberal urban governance. I document their significance in relation to attempts to create a “Community Greenway” in inner city Vancouver. Drawing from interviews, I demonstrate that while residents did, indeed, lay claim to public space, they did so in complicated and collectivized ways that depart from the privatized certainties of neo-liberal notions of property. Such complications are also echoed in other accounts of defensible space. I conclude by urging geographers to take property more seriously, yet also acknowledge the overlapping and collectivized ways in which people can lay claim to urban space.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
Publication date: 2004-09-01