Street corner democracy. Cultural intervention in Latin America’s urban public spaces

A Sciences Po-El Colegio de México project undertaken for two years (2016-2018) by Arturo Alvarado at the Colmex Center of Sociological Studies and Olivier Dabène at CERI, in collaboration with the Sciences Po School of Urban Studies. The project builds upon the previous dual initiatives in the framework of the "governing large metropolis" research program.

Conceived as a preliminary step toward further, deeper cooperation, the project consists of two joint seminars intened to socialize, share the results of both coordinators' ongoing research projects and elaborate a joint research program for the years to come that will include other partners in Latin America.

Its ambition is to explore new actors and strategies of public space occupation (reorganization and appropiation) in large cities. It intends to focus on a series of cultural activities that take place in the streets. Instead of simply considering activities such as street art as subversive because the artists invade public space and deliver provocative messages, it argues that the actors involved contribute to the quality of democracy. Their irruption in public spaces and the content of their art spark public debates. In some cases, the actors form a community that can engage policy makers. A crucial dimension to explore is the interaction between street artists and the authorities, considering the legal framework and the political environment in a given time frame.

In particuler, the project explores the notions of grassroots and participatory democracy as applied to these activities. As compared to the existing literature, this is an innovative way to address these issues.

The seminars consist of a theoretical and a methodological discussion in order to elaborate a joint research program with a robust theoretical framework and some definite methodological orientations. The project's ambition is then to expand the scope of the research, to include other types of urban interventions (performances, street players, musicians, "civil society group…).

The research program will include a mapping of the actors and their activities, and the different legal frameworks. It will then proceed to compare them and explain the differences, referring to the quality of democracy involved in each city. 

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ScPo_Colmex2016.pdf332.25 Ko