The Urban Streetscape as Political Cosmos / Panel: The Politics of Street Naming in the City of Victoria
Chair of the Committee for Urban Studies and Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Victoria
Panelists include Lisa Schnitzler (University of Victoria), Ben Isitt (Victoria City Council), Sam Grey (University of Victoria), and John Lutz (University of Victoria), facilitated by Reuben Rose-Redwood (University of Victoria)
There are few spaces as ordinary and mundane, yet politically-charged, as a city’s streets. A site of everyday routines and fleeting encounters, the “street” can also become a place of memory as well as a space of political protest, mass demonstration, and revolutionary action. The governing authorities of city and state have long viewed the urban streetscape as a political technology of infrastructural power, not only in terms of the regulation of circulatory flows of people, goods, and capital, but also as a space in which to inscribe the ideologies of the ruling regime, and its vision of history, into the landscapes of everyday life. One of the primary ways in which the latter has been achieved over the past few centuries is through the naming of city streets. A seemingly mundane aspect of urban administration, street naming systems also make up the very foundations of urban spatial imaginaries. Naming streets therefore plays an important role in the making of “urban worlds” and the production of the urban streetscape as a “political cosmos.” Yet the urban streetscape is a space where different visions of the past collide in the present and competing spatial imaginaries are juxtaposed from one street corner to the next. It is precisely at the spatial intersections of different temporal worlds that the “political life” of urban streetscapes unfolds. This City Talks event will consist of a presentation on “The Urban Streetscape as Political Cosmos” by Reuben Rose-Redwood followed by a panel discussion on the politics of street naming in Victoria, British Columbia.