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Locking Down the City (Well, Not Quite): APEC 2007 and urban citizenship in Sydney

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This article critically analyses security measures put in place for the 2007 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Sydney. Drawing on an emerging repertoire of international summit security techniques, APEC security authorities attempted to impose a range of spatial and temporal restrictions which were explicitly designed to marginalise dissent. These restrictions were premised upon, and designed to reinforce, a binary distinction between the 'virtuous' urban citizen (in need of protection) and the 'unruly' protester (from whom the virtuous citizens needed protection). However, these attempts to 'lock down' the city's public spaces during APEC did not go to plan. The article identifies and analyses three modes of political claim-making which sought to expand the possibilities for urban citizenship during APEC: complaint, protest and parody. The analysis suggests that while authorities may attempt to marginalise dissent by locking down urban space, their efforts also present a range of possibilities and opportunities for insurgent urban citizenship practices. In the case of APEC 2007, we show that humour and parody were particularly effective in re-politicising the city.
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Keywords: APEC; Political protest; Sydney; policing; public space; urban citizenship

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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