Activising Space: The Spatial Politics of the 2011 Protest Movement in Israel

Marom, N.

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Marom, N. (2013). Activising space: The spatial politics of the 2011 protest movement in Israel. Urban Studies, 50(13), 2826–2841.

In summer 2011, Israel was swept by unprecedented political protest as multiple encampments occupied streets and mass rallies were held weekly in Tel Aviv and other cities. The article focuses on the spatial politics of this protest, analysing the particular strategies it used to activise urban public space. The protest initially reflected a specific urban context and limited agenda—namely, the lack of affordable housing in Tel Aviv. However, as it materialised and expanded in public space, it also became more inclusive, incorporating more marginalised publics and places, addressing long-standing socio-spatial inequalities between Israel’s ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, and advancing a message of ‘social justice’—with the noted exception of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The analysis of the Israeli protest foregrounds some dynamics that it shares with other ‘global’ protests in 2011, from Tahrir Square to Occupy Wall Street, pointing to the spatial politics of centrality, multiplicity and ‘media-space’, a mutually enforcing relationship between physical public space and mainstream and social media.

Main finding
Tel Aviv’s contested urban spaces and other occupied locations played central roles in their strategic occupation and as a symbolic call for action, appealing to a right to the city. These spaces were occupied by protesters who framed these mass rallies as the voice of diverse, dispersed social groups, but failed to include Palestinian civil rights in their message. By occupying public space, the groups garnered attention from the media, carrying the message of inclusion and exclusion further. The 2011 Israeli protests and other protests around the world suggest an emergence of a mutually reinforcing relationship between physical public space and social or mainstream media.

Description of method used in the article
This article analyzes social media, media coverage, and employs direct observation of Tel Aviv protests between mid July and early September 2011.

Of some practical use if combined with other research

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